Authors’ note: Excerpts and fic within are from The Forgotten Child, a Doctor Who fic written by Cherry3456. The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. Artell belongs to himself. July and Library belong to JulyFlame. When writing this mission we had a three month hiatus during which the fic improved significantly. Unperturbed by this shocking development, we came up with our own solution as you will find out. We would like to thank Makari and Galle for their help in editing the mission.
You are not lost, you’ve just misplaced yourself, Artell assured himself as he walked in the corridor. He was trying to look as unlost as possible because getting lost on your first day would be just embarrassing. It didn’t help that all the corridors looked the same, though. They’d told him to report to an “RC” where “July” would be there to meet him. They told him he “couldn’t possibly miss it”, gave some instructions he’d long forgotten and shoved him into the corridor.
“Is this how they treat new people around here?” he muttered and then saw it.
It was impossible, and he tried to see if taking his glasses off would make it hurt less. It didn’t. It looked like a sheet of some kind, but only after Jackson Pollock with a bucket, no, buckets, of neon paint had had his way with it.
He figured he could at least ask for directions and peered in.
The room behind the sheet was in a state of disorganization. A console occupied the length of one wall, and a small kitchen had conquered the other side. Books had been stacked in piles on every available surface, which included part of the Console. The wall opposite of the sheet had a bunk bed moved solidly against it, leaving barely enough room between it and the oven opposite for the door there to open, and only the bottom bunk had a mattress- a second one was wedged beneath. The framework of the upperbunk was a nightmarish mess of metal bars, duct tape, and, for some reason, party streamers.
It was a safety inspector’s nightmare.
A sledgehammer was resting precariously on top of the counter, biding its time. Artell took a cautious step in. “Hello? Is anyone in here?” He took another step and tried to see what the books were, ignoring the much too obvious sledgehammer.
“Hey, what’re you doing in here?” The voice came from behind him.
Artell leapt forward, screaming something like “Gah!”or “Argh!” He bumped into the counter causing the sledgehammer to crash to the floor, narrowly avoiding his squishy toes. After he recovered from the fright and racket he turned around and saw...
A short young woman with fluffy brown hair and brown eyes, framed by glasses- one of the lenses had a long scratch down the center. She was wearing black- the norm for agents, really- and the flashpatch on her shirt indicated she was a Floater. She was also holding a long tapered lighter and an aerosol hairpsray can that proclaimed “Mega Super Strength Hold!”
“HellomynameisArtellIamnewhereandI’mlookingforJuly!” Artell blurted out. As if to add the missing pauses he took a deep breath and pushed his own glasses up his nose.
“Er, yeah, that’s me. Hi?” She looked harmless.
“Oh. Hello!” Artell broke into a relieved smile and offered his hand. “I was told to come see you. They said something like, ‘if you can pull off a mission with July you can manage anything.”
July’s eye twitched, nearly unoticeably, and accepted the hand for a quick shake. “Okay, hi. That’s nice but I already have a partner, and it’s not like there are any missio-”
“-waiting for me and I should know better by now, really.” She sighed, walked in past him and set the lighter and aerosol can on the only remaining available surface- the stove top- before she opened the oven door and pulled out a backpack.
Artell ignored July and beelined for the console. “Yes! Doctor Who! I know this!” He kept reading on. “But this is... I said I wanted to work in the Historical Inaccuracies Division!” He looked about the room. “We’re going to need a CAD and disguise generators - well, I’m sorry, you know how this works better than I do,” he said and looked at what she was doing exactly. “Is the sledgehammer for...”
“The sledgehammer is mine,” she said, grabbing it. “And we can set the disguises on the Console.” July walked over, and peered at the screen. “I’ve already got both kind of CADs in the bag, and a DORKS, along with anything else we might need. I hope you’re not allergic to peanut butter. We’ll also need a dummy.” She grabbed one from a shelf next to the entryway. “Also, just because it’s a Sue, doesn’t mean it won’t hold anything else. Especially if it’s a Whofic. Floaters, dude. Floaters.”
Artell just nodded along. “Wait, a dummy?”
“Yeah. Since it looks like the fic switches to the first person after the introductory chapter, we need a dummy. The dummy will get possessed and take the Sue’s place. Unless you’re interested in becoming a teenaged girl, we need it.”
“Interested in... no. Oh no. That’s interesting. I don’t think they mentioned that.” He had been worried the “dummy” was referring to him. “So, um. How does it... work? Does it open a portal or something?”
July grinned far more widely than was necessary. “They fail to mention a lot of things. Did they say anything about what happens if you mess up badly enough on a mission?” She motioned for him to move away from the Console and started to poke at the panel, bringing up disguises suitable for the Whoverse. “Any disguises you have in mind?”
“Well, it might be best if we are simply not seen - we can’t exactly walk in as Daleks or the sort. And I can’t remember any canon aliens that can turn invisible either... Could the disguise generator give us perception filters instead?”
“You’ve got a patch, right?” She jabbed a finger at the one on her right shoulder. “It should have a Someone Else’s Problem field.”
Artell put his hand in his pocket and extracted the envelope he had been given. He’d thought it was his first paycheque, he hadn’t had a look. Inside was a black round patch with a broken alarm clock on it. He showed it to July. “Oh, is this it? If it has a SEP field it should be functionally similar to a perception filter, then...?”
“Yeah, and you’ll want to have that on. Not in your pocket or some envelope. Why’d you stick it in your pocket anyhow?”
“Well they just gave me a brown envelope, I didn’t want to start picking through it right then and there! I figured I’d have some time.” He stuck the patch on his shirt. “Okay, I guess I’m ready.”
July shoved a notebook and pen into Artell’s hands, as well as a taser (which was mercifully turned off). “You can write the charges, and have that for a bit. Unless you have a weapon hiding somewhere on you.”
“They just told me to use whatever I could get my hands on.” He handled the taser, then put it in his pocket. “Pen and paper? How old-fashioned.”
“Do you really want to carry a computer around if we have to run for our lives or potentially drop it or have it drop on us?”
This hadn’t really occurred to Artell, but it did now. He swallowed. “I am not very good at running...”
“It won’t necessarily be a lot of running. Just enough to dive through a portal. Or out of view. Or whatever.”
“Okay. I can do this. It’s just Doctor Who. It’s a children’s show. People don’t die. Unless it’s a space monster made out of painted bubblewrap... or a Cyberman factory or a Dalek invasion or oh God.”
July shot a look at Artell as the new recruit began to wilt in front of her, opened a portal, peeked through it, and then promptly shoved him through, using the sledgehammer for leverage.
Artell squealed before hurtling through the portal and landing on a hard surface with a thud. He got up and looked around: there was nothing but white, blank space, but in the distance he could see two figures walking hand in hand between rows of objects of various sizes. Enormous black text started dizzyingly circling on the “walls” of the white space:
“Mother, where are we going? There are big TARDISes everywhere!" A little girl with light brown hair and emerald green eyes asked. "We're going to visit an old friend, Dawn Melody," The woman holding Dawn Melody's hand explained.
Artell was about to say “What kind of name is Dawn Melody?” but his thoughts were interrupted by a “whorp”. The dummy crashed through the portal, nearly hitting Artell.
July, for her part, tripped through the portal, the backpack hanging off of one shoulder, sledgehammer tightly gripped in her hands. She narrowly missed falling flat on her face.
“I think I’m on Gallifrey. How awesome is that?” Artell thought out loud and kept looking around to keep up with the Text. “And those things must be the TARDISes of the Time Lords. Since, you know, the fic says so.”
“Yep. Wish this was a bit more descriptive though. And be quieter, she might hear you.”
“Alright, alright,” Artell said and lowered his voice. He started scribbling on his notepad.
“Okay, what charges can you see?” July sounded patient for now.
“Dawn Melody is a ludicrous name. So yeah, ‘calling your original character Dawn Melody’ is what I wrote down.”
“Yep. It’s also a terrible progression following River’s name. It’s not really all that clever.”
“I didn’t even realize that. I mean, what does Dawn have to do with River?”
Eventually, Dawn Melody and the woman reached the correct TARDIS. It still looked like a telephone booth after visiting London in the nineteen-fifties.
Artell wrote some more. “‘Making your TARDIS a telephone booth.’ See, the Doctor’s TARDIS is a police box, for policemen, with no translucent windows. Phone booths have windows in them. So I don’t know how that is supposed to work... and you should call it a telephone box since in the canon people using English use British English unless otherwise obvious like in the case of American characters, but that’s a smaller quibble...” he rambled on.
“Yeah. But in all likelihood she’s too special-”- July fluttered her eyelashes here - “to have something that would make sense. There’s also a lot of filler sentences here that only detract from the actual writing.”
While young Dawn Melody examined the TARDIS and its controls, the woman walked up to the control panel and murmured, "Hello, Sweetie..." The TARDIS's light flickered, and the woman heard its response in her head, because TARDISes have minds of their own, and in a way, are telepathic. Hello, River Song. It's been a while. River Song smiled and nodded. "I've grown old now, Sweetie," River Song called her TARDIS Sweetie, just like the term she used for her husband.
“Calls the TARDIS the same as the Doctor? That’s not at all disturbing,” Artell muttered.
“Charge it. Also charge for the overtly telepathic TARDIS.” July had begun tapping her foot at some point.
Artell nodded and wrote furiously. “The TARDIS is meant to be subtle, not to speak in direct phras... wait, if she’s River Song and that’s her -” he somehow turned both pale and flush at the same time.
“What, you thought she was in here for no reason? G’on, mark it down.”
"And I have a dear little child. I'm old enough to be her grandmother though. I came here with the Doctor's TARDIS, and I have a request. He doesn't know he has a child.”
He produced a long, theatrical sigh. “It was already dumb when it happened in the canon! I’ll admit the Doctor has a granddaughter, but just generally if you tout someone as the Doctor’s daughter you have to do a damn good job of how you do it. Which is why it’s only been done once in the canon, and even then it was basically a throwaway joke.”
So I have one final request, Sweetie. I know what day today is. It's the day he closes the rest of the Time Lords and the Time War events in a Time Lock.
July sighed, and stopped with the foot tapping upon seeing Artell’s expression. “Okay, you seem to know this canon better than me, so go on, tell me why this is a charge and impossible.”
Artell coughed and tried to sound particularly smart for this one. “That’s not how time locks work. The time lock means they would not be able to be here, because they would have need to have travelled here from the future, since River Song is already old, and the child is already five. The time lock can’t be bypassed by time travel, that’s the whole point. I suppose it would make sense if this was the time before the Time War itself, but that is not what she says. Also, why would she raise their daughter on Gallifrey, with the Time War and everything? There are safer places.”
“Right. This is probably going to be our biggest charge, because this is completely impossible in canon for the time being.”
Take my daughter, Dawn Melody, away. Please, Sweetie. I want her to grow, to find her father and I, to live in the time we lived, so that the Doctor will maybe change his mind, and take us on adventures with him. I just want things to be right."
“We don’t really know enough about River from her appearances, but this is sounding quite out of character for her. And how does she grow old with a child if she’s stored up in the Library? Anyway... you brought the CAD, right?” Artell asked, as if he was in charge here, not her.
She was just letting him think so, of course. “Yep.” She pulled the Canon Analysis Device out, and pointed it in River’s direction. It immediately let out a pathetic whine that July soon silenced by shoving it back into the backpack.
“That’s bad, right?” Artell asked.
“Yup. And annoying.” She gave the backpack a punch. “River’s more than fifty percent out of character.”
Of course, River Song, my friend. I would do almost anything for you. I am still young. I wish to go on the countless days of flying around the universe as you do. I will take your daughter, Dawn Melody, if you tell me what I must do.
River Song smiled. She never did understand why she could fly a TARDIS if she wasn't a Time Lord, but, of course, many things do not make sense in our world. We just have to believe they are possible.
“These aren’t the plot holes you’re looking for. Not that the canon is without its holes, but no reason to make new ones.”
The woman pulled a bag off of her shoulder, and murmured to the TARDIS,
“It’s always murmuring. In urple prose older female characters like to murmur a lot. Bad portent.”
"Dawn Melody is five now. She is half Time Lord, half human. She ages within her regenerations, until she is fully-grown.
“So... for her to become a full grown adult, she needs to die? Possibly several times? What sense does that make! The Doctor seems to get younger every time he regenerates! This isn’t how it works at all! And what if she doesn’t actually get lethal injuries for 100 years, will she still be a child mentally?” Artell was squeezing the pen quite tightly at this point.
“You’re trying to overthink it. Don’t overthink it. Or else baaaad things. Baaaaad, baaad, thiiiings.” July tapped her head.
For each of her birthdays, until she is thirteen, I want you to give her one of these." River Song showed her Sweetie eight small packages, and the TARDIS opened a storage compartment within its console, which River Song dropped the packages in. "She will gradually learn to fly you, Sweetie," River Song explained. "Just stay away from landing. I don't want her getting into any trouble before the time is right, okay?" Yes. The TARDIS replied.
“So... she’ll spend eight of her formative years sitting in the TARDIS talking to it by telepathy. When she emerges she will a severely limited capacity for language, significantly impaired or even non-existing social skills, and very, very long hair. Like those feral kids you read about on Wikipedia.”
"Oh, Sweetie, I'll miss you...but I must go. And you must, also. Dematerialize where you think is best. Goodbye." A tear streaked down River Song's cheek, and she swiftly wiped it away before walking over to Dawn Melody. This would be the last time she would see her before leaving.
"Mother?" Dawn Melody asked. "Is something wrong?" "No, nothing, my dear," River Song replied.
“‘I am merely going to abandon you at the age of five to the mercy of a sentient time travelling machine that doesn’t probably even know what acne is.’ And she meant ‘materialize’, not ‘dematerialize’, surely.”
July posed a more disturbing question. “Would a random TARDIS even be prepared for a girl after they start? I can’t really see there being enough-”
"You're going to have so many fun adventures on this TARDIS. She will guide you on your way, alright?" "I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean, mother..." Dawn Melody trailed off. "I must go," River Song stated. "You must stay. This is your fifth birthday present." Dawn Melody's mouth made an "o" shape, and she stood up to hug her mother. "Goodbye, Mother," Dawn Melody murmured. "Can I visit?" River Song smiled, and patted Dawn Melody's shoulder after the hug. "There will be no reason. Old Sweetie will explain everything as you grow. Goodbye, my sweet."
“What a terrible mother you are, River Song.” The CAD agreed, stuck in July’s backpack, making its whine remote and muffled.
River Song sat on the floor of the Doctor's "borrowed" TARDIS, the future one. It was still stuck in the chameleon circuit. The Doctor said he never had time to fix it, or so he said, but River thought that it was because he liked the exterior of his TARDIS.
Standing up, River Song patted the TARDIS gently, and sighed, saying, "Take us home." It lurched a little, and then River Song sat on the floor once more. As she drew in her final, old, breath, one though remained in her head:
Time can be, and will be, re-written.
“So she was dead and at death’s door... and she had a five year old daughter?”
“This is the Whoverse, stranger things happen in the canon,” July reminded him.
Artell was about to say something when he was overcome by the entire world turning on its ahead and moving forward by eight years. It was a sound one can’t quite describe. The white blank space dissolved and turned into the pink, vaguely steampunk interior of the TARDIS. July quickly shoved him out of sight into a small nook of electronics, and squashed herself in after.
The dummy had travelled with them, and jumped into life, beginning to narrate the story as it unfolded in front of their eyes.
"Ello, Sweetie!" I sang, using the name my mother had given the TARDIS, only adding a little personal touch by only saying "ello" instead of "hello."
Artell started dry heaving.
“Don’t forget to write down the charges! And the transition wasn’t that bad!”
“Mmfb mmft flrm,” Artell pointed out, covering his mouth. The dummy continued to drone on along with the narrative.
"Do you know what today is?" Yes, of course. The TARDIS replied telepathically. Your thirteenth birthday. "Yup," I said, emphasizing the "p."
Artell remained nauseous but for an entirely new reason.
Over the last eight years, I got a present from the TARDIS for each of my birthdays. A lot of the time, I got lonely, and not much goes on in a TARDIS, so I would spend most of my time teaching myself to read in the library with the swimming pool, asking the TARDIS about my past, or even looking for new rooms I've never seen before. Don't get me wrong, there isloads to do on the TARDIS, but I definitely got bored once in a while, what with no one to talk to. So birthdays are a big plus, because I always get a present from Mum.
“This is just horrifying to even imagine. She should be screwed up in the head six ways to Sunday. Maybe she will be. But she’ll be ‘cutesy’ and ‘zany’ instead of ‘completely sociopathic.’”
In my early years, the gift was a little note from mom, each one telling me how much she would miss me and then telling me a little bit about Dad's special past adventures, how to control the TARDIS, and sometimes even telling me about myself. Since I am half human, half time lady, there are many things to know about me.
They could palpably feel the weight of clunky exposition imposing on them.
For instance, I grow within my regenerations until I'm fully grown, so around thirty or so...I've had the same appearance for years: Emerald eyes, light brown hair, and always wearing my traditional blue beret.
July patted his hand condescendingly. “It could be worse.” She grinned wickedly.
On my tenth birthday, I was given the usual note; only it was longer and included a diary. Mum said I would need it later to record my adventures. I've been using it only a little, because I know I'll use it soon...hopefully.
On my eleventh birthday, the usual longer note, and then three new books Mum had written for me, two of them were short books about flying and repairing the TARDIS. The weird thing was neither of them told me how to actually start the whole time traveling thing. The other one was about some species of aliens that existed in the world. Each was in the format of a diary entry. Funny how the date they were written is in the future, and not the past...I still can't quite figure that one out.
For my twelfth birthday, last year, I was given yet another long note from my mother, explaining what I'm doing here. She said "Sweetie" would explain almost everything on my thirteenth birthday, but she wanted me to know that she wrote all these notes in one day, each note being a "mini lesson" in life, and that all these mini lessons lead up to one thing: My thirteenth birthday, the day my adventure would really start. Mum had also given me a physic card. How she obtained that, I will never know.
“A what?” Artell said, quite loudly, and the Sue turned away and blinked in their general direction for a moment before shrugging and continuing to think to herself. The dummy spouted the lines away with the cheery cadence of a thirteen year old girl. “A physic paper? What... is it? She surely means a psychic paper, yes, but I want to see how that works.”
And now, it is my thirteenth birthday. Finally.
"So, Sweetie, what'cha got for me this time?" I asked plainly, trying to contain my excitement. The little storage compartment I was standing by opened, and out popped a little package. I looked at it for a few seconds; adding some dramatic effect, until Sweetie finally said, Open it.
I slowly opened the little box, and the first thing I saw was a note. Slowly tearing it open, out fell a little folded piece of paper, which said:
Have Fun. Find your father and I.
A lone tear dripped down my face, but I quickly wiped it away. Opening the folded paper up, there was a picture of a blue lever, and an arrow pointing to it. Under the arrow were the words "Start up lever. Sweetie will know where to go."
“So she knows how to operate the TARDIS from the manuals and everything... but she still couldn’t travel without pulling that one lever? She lived in the TARDIS for eight years, didn’t she at least get curious? Maybe pull that lever by accident? This is horrible characterization. It’s simply one excuse after another to set the original character up in the way the Suethor wanted,” Artell fumed, under the cover of the dummy shouting - no, exclaiming -
"ALRIGHT!" I exclaimed. "Time to find Mum and Dad! Go on some adventures, have some fun!" There's something else in the box, Sweetie said. I picked the little package off of the floor, and out dropped something into my hand. As I turned it over in my hands, my eyes widened. "A-A sonic screwdriver..."
“Oh YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” Artell shouted. The Sue suddenly fell silent and stared in their direction. The inside of the TARDIS turned dark and red, and July could feel the TARDIS in their heads, probing and making questions. “A SONIC SCREWDRIVER? COME ON!”
July tackled him and started fiddling with the portal device.
“You could have at least invented something original, and for that matter, do people even realize the screwdriver is just an excuse for lazy writ- mffb bmff!”
July activated a portal right below them and the fic skipped forward several paragraphs, dropping them in a park in a small, very English-looking village.
Artell sprawled on the ground as July gave him a kick in the shin. “Don’t do that again.”
“I couldn’t help myself!” Artell said morosely. “Do we have enough charges to just go home?”
“Gimme,” July said and grabbed the notepad, glancing it through. “Nah, let’s get some more. The fic so far is just mediocre, not really bad.”
“But it’ll get there.”
“And we’ll be here to witness it.”
Artell had a look around. “This is Leadworth! We’re probably here during Eleventh Hour. See? Duck pond over there, but no ducks.”
The dummy became animated again, and they hid with it behind a park bench. The Sue was wandering into the park, with Rory in his scrubs and a jacket, walking around with his cell phone out.
I took a little look around before completely stepping out of the TARDIS, and laughed when I saw Rory Williams, standing in the park, still in his nurse uniform. It was the kind of laugh you get with an "Oh my gosh that's so freaky!" experience. But something was a little wrong with this picture...
I observed Rory carefully, using every fiber of my Time Lady being to figure out what was wrong. After examining Rory, I moved on to the rest of the park. That's when I saw a man with his dog, just standing there; doing nothing, and it hit me.
"R-SIR!" Dawn Melody shouted at him.
"Uh," I started. "Isn't that guy from the hospital?" I asked. Rory looked carefully at the man with his dog, and then replied, "Hm...Yeah, I think he is. Strange. How'd you know that?" Whoops. Didn't think about that part.
Thankfully though, I have a fast brain, and I pulled out my physic card, showed it to him, and said, "Uh, I'm part of the volunteering for teens program at the hospital." Yeah, that works, I thought. Rory nodded. "We must work on different days..." He murmured. Wow, I'm so lucky there actually is a volunteering program at his hospital.
Finally, Rory pulled out his phone, and took a picture of the guy. I sighed, and then said, "Well, uh, I've got to go...I'll see you later..." I dashed off before he replied. Too bad I didn't notice a certain blue-eyed boy, watching me from the distance...
“Oh my God. She ruined Rory.”
It was going to be another tirade, wasn’t it? “When you watch the episode, you don’t have an opinion on Rory - neither does the Doctor - except maybe he’s a bit of a wuss, until he explains he’d been taking the pictures because he’d thought it was odd and so forth. So it establishes that he’s actually pretty clever and quick on his feet, and cares about people. But now it’s suddenly the Sue being clever for him. So in this version of the events, Rory is ruined.” He wrote on the notepad in very, very large letters, and was nearly done when suddenly the chapter change caught them with a loud swoosh.
They were still where they were, so it wasn’t quite nearly as disorienting. The dummy kept nattering on about how she was watching her dad and Amy from the distance, and how she didn’t know what she was about to do next, and something about going around saving people like her dad. Dawn Melody then headed in the direction of the TARDIS, when suddenly she was grabbed by a figure and dragged into an alleyway.
“Crap, this fic was rated K wasn’t it?” Artell asked. They looked at each other and rushed to look down the alley.
All of this is running through my head when suddenly someone grabs me, and puts their hand on my mouth. I kick a little, but know I'll be able to get out of whatever trap this human has for me...at least, I think. Besides, they don't feel too strong.
And then, like that, they just drop me. I stumble a little before standing straight, and turning around to face my "attacker." My eyes widen when I realize that the "attacker" is a boy, probably my age, with sapphire colored eyes and light brown, sort of messy hair, but I think it's supposed to look like that.
“Perhaps everyone’s eyes are coloured like jewels in this ‘verse,” Artell theorized. July looked bored.
He's wearing a black vest type of thing, with an orange t-shirt underneath, and some ripped skinny jeans. The guy is actually kind of cute. Oops, I'm not supposed to think like that...he did"kidnap" me, after all.
As we stare at each other in silence, I wonder why he all of the sudden let me go. That's when he says, "Why aren't you running?" "That's not exactly how you should introduce yourself, you know...after all, you did just grab me off the street and drag me to a 'dark' alley." I put quotations around the word "dark."
The dummy did air quotes with its hands, startling Artell momentarily. July rolled her eyes.
The characters kept at it for a while, something about a fire and a snake appearing behind her. Then a group of burly men rushed into the alley shouting, and the characters vanished into a dumpster.
“Those goons called the boy ‘Dusk’. Dusk and Dawn. I’d give it a pass if she just gave the name to him after he’d refuse to offer one, but now it’s just a coincidence that kills suspense of disbelief... in a Doctor Who story.” Artell sighed.
“Which is really embarrassing, when you think about it,” July mused.
The boy, who I assume is possibly named "Dusk," continued to pull me toward the back of the alley, until we hit a dumpster bin. He opened the lid, and I whispered, "You're kidding, right?" "No, I'm emptying my trash. Yes, I'm serious! Don't worry, they haven't used this thing in years, and it's the only way out," Dusk replied. Out? I wondered, but didn't say anything, because the guards were coming.
“I am not crawling through a garbage bin. Can’t we just fast-forward to when they get to the-”
July had apparently thought one step ahead of him, and they appeared behind a shrubbery outside a dingy shack, Artell being once more pushed through a portal. The characters sat down for more exposition. Artell decided to pack aspirin for his next mission.
July, for her part, was heavily enjoying Artell’s visible suffering.
He sat down, and I followed. "Explain," was all I said. "Why?" He asked. "Cause I know your name, and if you don't tell me, I'll report you to the police." I replied, pulling out my physic card. "Elizabeth Smith, co-detective for the police. I volunteer there in my free time."
Dusk stared at the paper blankly, and replied, "Uh, there's nothing on that card..." My eyes widened, and I flipped it around. Sure enough, the paper was blank. "Hm," I murmured. "Weird...crap. You caught me.
“She’s meant to see it as blank. The viewers see it’s blank. That’s how it works.”
“That’s because she calls it ‘physic’. It’s not operating within the canon properly because of the misspelling,” July said. “In this case why Dusk can’t see it is probably to imply that he’s Special, since in the show people who aren’t fooled by the paper are shown to be particularly smart or whatever.”
Artell nodded. “It’s sort of like the Jedi mind trick...”
"Okay, I know your name is Dusk. Or at least, that's your code name. And the police are after you, so...you're a...thief? Yeah! You are a thief! Oh, I like it! Someone with some tricks up their sleeves. But tell me, why do you steal?" Dusk stared at me like I was crazy, but I'm sure I've got this whole thief suspicion right. I've got my two hearts set on it. And Time Lady and Lord's brains are awesome.
The agents just looked at each other and rolled their eyes. “This is why Time Lord OCs are bad news,” July explained. “A fic with one sets off all kinds of alarms. The sort of alarms that say ‘Hallo, I’m a Sue! Or a Stu! Please deposit all common sense and good taste in the receptacle to the right and ignore my annoying beeping please!’”
"Fine," Dusk groaned, caving in. "I'm a thief. A fourteen-year-old thief. I steal because I have to. Look around, isn't it obvious? I mean, I have no parents, or any relatives, for that matter, my house is a wreck, and the police are after me. It's not like I hurt anyone, and I don't steal huge stuff...just food, and sometimes money, but only if I really needit. I don't know why the police make such a huge deal of it." We stare at each other in silence for a minute, and there's a small smile on my lips. "You're not scared of me, are you?"
Artell whistled. “There are so many holes here I don’t know where to start. I mean, if you think about it, the canon would never ever portray a modern day teenaged character, in the UK, having to resort to crime because he can’t afford food. That’s going into politics territory, and the BBC can’t do that. Meta level considerations aside, and maybe I’m being unfair with that, but even so, it’s just implausible, the UK has a welfare state and everything. At least for now. Besides,” he insisted, “the episode highlights the fact that they’re in a small village in the middle of nowhere. Those don’t have delinquents in shacks stealing food for sustenance, nor goons chasing them.”
“What’s a shame is that you could give the character and the story an interesting spin if he was a petty criminal but still a nice person,” July said. “Still, just because the BBC couldn’t do it doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a fic. So that’s not a charge.”
Artell sighed. “Can we just jump to the next chapt-”
“Stop doing that!”
They were in a thick woodland, just out of sight of the characters wandering through the forest, with the Sweetie!TARDIS looming in the distance.
"So, why exactly are we here, again?" Dusk asked. We were walking deeper into the forest of Vipera. "Well, as I said before, the Mazai are known for their snake like qualities, and how they are red. And you said that the crack looked like a red snake. I'm just wondering if maybe the Mazai have something to do with it,"
“Creating a new species out of whole cloth is not that bad, considering this is a Doctor Who fic. If anything I wish the canon invented some new aliens time and again instead of rehashing the old ones on a nostalgia trip. The name is okay, but the species isn’t terribly imaginative,” Artell muttered. “Can’t really charge anything here.”
I explained while pushing a long branch out of my way. I didn't hold it for Dusk though, and it ended up hitting him in the face. "Thanks a ton, Dawn," He muttered. "No problem!" I giggled. It was nice to have someone to tease and talk to again.
“Oh, I do believe the effects of living alone for eight of her formative years are beginning to show.”
“I think it’s meant to be playful,” July suggested.
“But it’s a long branch! That thing must have hurt.”
We kept walking for a while, until we finally broke out of the forest into a large clearing. But the clearing wasn't, well, clear. Instead, there were several huts made of grass, mud, and rocks. Several Mazai children were playing catch in the middle of the "camp," and other Mazai women were weaving baskets. In the distance were more trees, and behind those I could see a huge, mysterious looking mountain.
“Yeah, they’re just Stock Alien Race #25, the Primitive Humanoids That Look Different.”
When one of the women saw Dusk and I, she rushed to one of the huts, and about five seconds later, a Mazai man came out. He was tall and skinny, just like all the other Mazai, and was wearing some type of "armor" made of leather. It was only on his chest, but he also wore some type of shorts.
The man approached Dusk and I with such grace I thought he was dancing. "Hello," He greeted, bowing slightly. I followed the gesture, and glanced at Dusk to suggest he should do so, also. The man's voice was sort of like a hiss, and his English wasn't too clear, but I could understand.
“Hold on. Does this imply the man actually speaks English? Because it does. The TARDIS, at least the Doctor’s, has a remote translator that works on telepathy. It should work on a known alien species. This is how the whole show can work in the first place.”
"Hello," I replied quietly. "I am-"Dawn, and your friend is Dusk. Yes, we have met before," The man interrupted. "W-We have?" I stuttered. "Yes," The man replied. "My past, your future."
“How does this random man suddenly know this? And why doesn’t it break his - excuse me - lizard brain? No, don’t hit me!” Artell barely dodged the punch.
I nodded, and guessed I must visit him later in my life, but at a different time period. "Dawn and Dusk, a pair in time..." The man stated, a far off look in his eyes. Dusk and I snorted at the same time. "Pair? Pair?" Dusk laughed. "Yeah, we're just..." I trailed off. "Friends," Dusk finished. I flashed him a grateful smile, glad we were on the same page.
“Your foreshadowing is showing. But yeah, if she will be here later on, then it all sort of makes sense. Fine.”
"And you are also friends of us. You are welcome to stay here as long as you wish. Though things are not as peaceful as they once were," The man sighed. "But that is a dreary topic. My name is Marlon. Please, if you need anything, let me know. My wife, Leia, will make you comfortable." I noticed that a Mazai woman had appeared, and she must be Leia. "Thanks," I replied, bowing. Marlon returned the gesture, and then left.
“Marlon and Leia? What? Did the Sue give these to them when she visited? But she doesn’t know Star Wars! She can’t! Agh!”
"Come on, then!" Leia exclaimed. She had long, black hair that was in a braid, and big, brown eyes. She was wearing a brown tank top of some sorts, but it had several holes in the bottom. Leia was also wearing a long black skirt, with flower designs embroidered in it. "Can't have you standing out here in the heat all day! I'll show you to where you will stay."
“These were supposed to be primitives in huts... the annoying thing is that the time travel stuff gives the Suethor a carte blanche to introduce insanities like this, because it can always be explained as something that the Sue did before in the chronology but only in the future in the narrative. In essence, the Sue is already the Most Special Time Lady Heroine, and we need not be shown anything to justify it. The reason this works with the Doctor is that we have seen him be legitimately awesome since 1963. Or 1974, if you prefer-”
While Leia led us to a hut, Dusk whispered, "Shouldn't we ask about the red snake?" "Eventually," I replied quietly. "No harm in getting to know, and trust, them first. The snake may be a touchy topic." Dusk nodded, and then we entered the hut.
It was cool on the inside, and there were two sacks that must be sleeping bags on the floor, as if they had prepared for us. There was also a pot of some liquid over a fire in the center of the hut, with a large hole in the roof for the smoke to vent out of.
"Thank you, Leia," I said. "If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask," She replied, and bowed before leaving.
The characters chatted for a while in the hut.
"How about you take a little rest? Then you'll have enough energy until night, and you can get on the right sleeping schedule," Dusk suggested. "Okay," I yawned. "Will you stay?" "Of course," Dusk replied. "Where would I go without you? You're the one who knows everything about these people, I know nothing." Sleep was starting to take control, so I snuggled myself into one of the sleeping bags. But before I drowned into darkness, I whispered, "I don't know everything. Just some."
I couldn't hear Dusk's reply though, because I was already fast asleep, and in a flurry of dreams.
“I think they fell asleep,” July said after a moment. The dummy lay motionless and quiet on the thicket, and the Mazai went about their business. The male appeared to head out in the other direction to hunt. “I’ve had enough of this, and the charges should be enough. You still have the taser?”
Artell took it out of his pocket and nodded. As the aliens went away and turned their attention elsewhere, July used the disguise generator to turn them into Mazai warriors.
Artell stared at the now red, lizard-like July, hefting her large sledgehammer. “Well, that’s disorienting,” he said.
“It’s to fit into the canon. Well, what canon there is in this ‘verse.”
Artell accepted this with a shrug. They then crept into the hut, where Dawn and Dusk were blissfully unaware of them, sleeping in bags.
“I don’t know how to use this,” Artell hissed and waved the taser at July after fiddling with it for a moment.
“Just push it against her neck and press the big button,” July whispered back. Dusk muttered something in his sleep, freezing the agents for a moment, but he didn’t seem to wake up.
Artell slowly walked to Dawn Melody, while July skulked to Dusk with her sledgehammer ready. Artell wanted to know what she was going to do with it, but plausible deniability and all that. He knelt over the Sue, quickly pressed the black taser at her neck and pressed the button. The buzz was drowned out by the noise of July thwacking Dusk in the head with the butt of her hammer. Dawn Melody woke up and looked at them blankly, but wasn’t able to say a thing.
“Well, that was easy,” Artell said, relieved.
“You should know better than to say things like that!”
Artell turned pale and looked around. Nothing catastrophic seemed to be happening. He shrugged. “What’s next?”
“You read the charges. You’ve written them down, yes?”
Artell nodded and took out the notepad. “But wait, are we really going to kill a 13 year old girl?”
“Just read the charges first.”
“Fine. Dawn Melody, we hereby charge you for the crimes committed against canon. The charges are thus: making your OC be the Doctor’s and River’s daughter-”
“Can you hear that?” July suddenly perked up.
“Hear what?” Then he heard it too. It was the whirring of a TARDIS landing with its brakes on. The faint outline of a pink TARDIS interior, familiar from when they had tagged along the first time, began to coalesce around them.
“Crap!” Artell managed as it completely engulfed them. The characters plopped down on the corrugated panel floor, while the agents were set a few feet into the air, throwing them into the deck violently.
They could hear the telepathic scream of the Sweetie!TARDIS blasting into their heads. Artell climbed up to his feet and held his head suffering from wracking pain. July seemed completely unaffected; she got up, dusted off her lizard legs and picked up her sledgehammer.
“Artell!” she shouted. He shook his head vigorously and nodded. The TARDIS began to whirr again.
“It’s going to drop us into space or something!” Artell shouted back.
July hefted her sledgehammer and swinged it at the TARDIS console. Sparks flew but the machine seemed to only scream louder. “It’s the TARDIS! The Sue-wraith is in the TARDIS itself!”
Artell stared at her slack-jawed for a moment, but the cogs began to turn and it did make sense. It was a TARDIS after all, it could manipulate space-time, and it had raised the Sue - or, Dawn Melody - the way she was. And it had given them a telepathic evil eye when Artell had broken their disguise. “Okay, okay, let me think!”
July disagreed and kept wailing at the TARDIS, trying to reduce the console to smithereens. Artell snapped his fingers. “I know!” He took the notepad and tossed it to July. “Read the charges! I’ll find the briode nebuliser!”
“Have the portal device ready! We need to bail out once I remove it! It’s a fail-safe device!”
July dropped the hammer and picked up the notepad. She cleared her throat and began to read out the charges.
“Sweetie, we hereby charge you for crimes against the canon on these accounts: Calling your original protagonist Dawn Melody, because really, that’s just ridiculous as far as names go, using gems to describe the eye-colours of your protagonists, giving your OC a perfectly sapient, super-telepathic TARDIS shaped like a ‘telephone booth’- the fact that telephone booths have a huge glass element-, having River call her TARDIS the same as the Doctor which is on the questionable side, making an original protagonist who is the daughter of the Doctor and River, not understanding what a Time Lock is, and making the very premise of the fic a violation of the current canon, making River Song behave in an extremely OOC manner as scientifically verified, making it necessary for your protagonist to suffer horrible injury to mature into an adult, giving your protagonist a childhood that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, that crap with the ‘ello’and ‘yupp’ which leads us to the next charge, annoying the agents.”
“That’s a charge?” Artell asked incredulously.
July nodded. “And annoying one of the Agents very much in particular, to the point of making him annoy the other,”
July ignored him and went back to reading the pad.
"-a blue beret on a character who is neither French nor a UN peacekeeper -this one’s an unfair change, do you hear me, Artell?- ruining Rory, putting quotations around words and explicitly pointing this out- you don’t need to do that, it’s just completely obnoxious- oh, yeah, and making your Sue awesome without having to explain by taking advantage of the inherent properties of the Whoverse -”
“Found it!” Artell had located a small rectangular box attached to the machinery with cables, tubes and dried chewing-gum. “Once I remove this it will begin to disintegrate!”
“That will have to do,” July said and put the notepad away. “The sentence for these crimes is -”
“Disintegration by way of removing your briode nebuliser!” Artell said, and was about to rip out the little box thing when he felt a strange tingling sensation on his bare skin. Then he heard a weird noise, like a water balloon bursting, and a brief flash of light.
“Don’t!” someone shouted at him. He whirled around.
Artell’s first thought was “Why is there a mirror in the TARDIS?”
His second thought was “Since when did I grow a beard and get those eyeglasses?”
“Wh... what?” He finally said.
“Okay, this is where it gets complicated,” Artell’s older self said to him. He looked at the box, revealed in the wall now that the panel over it was gone. “I need you to leave that alone.”
“But, I need to remove that to destroy the TARDIS!”
“Yes, but we are not destroying the TARDIS.”
“We’re not? But the Sue! The fic!”
Future Artell laid a hand on Artell’s shoulder. “Trust me. The fic actually gets better. But if it’s not continued after this point, very unpleasant things will happen.”
“How do I know you’re not some... thing, like a hologram the TARDIS projected or something!”
Future Artell rolled his eyes, leaned in to Artell and whispered something in his ear. Artell blushed.
“Okay, I buy it,” Artell relented.
“Fine. Good. Excellent! My job here is done.” Future Artell turned around and stopped in his tracks. “Where is it?”
“Where is what?”
“Bright white portal thingy. I walked through it. Where did it go?”
“I need it to go back!” Future Artell pounded on the wall with his fist. “Where is it?!”
“This might be a bad time for you to point this out and I hate to be a drag,” Artell said quickly, “but this TARDIS is out to kill us all, you know.”
July swung into sight, using her sledgehammer for momentum. “Have you got it taken care of yet, I want to blow this joint befo- oh for the love of God what did you touch.” She looked between the two Artells before her.
“It wasn’t me!” Artell protested.
“People just don’t duplicate out of thin air! He’s clearly older! We’re in a time machine! You touched something!”
Future Artell stared at July in shock. “You’re July! Wait, I remember, you’re here. Yes. Oh. Oh dear. I’d forgotten.” He scratched his head. “Well it isn’t his fault, I can say that. But it’s a long story and he just told me we don’t have time so can we move on please? We can’t kill the fic!”
“Alright then, smartass, but we’re kind of in an angry sentient Sue!TARDIS that knows we’re here now and little miss sunshine tied up with my backpack. So you better have a good reason for leaving this the way it is. I am not leaving a Sue knowing we exist.”
Future Artell stammered. “Uh, I’m, I really can’t say. Laws of time travel and all that. Really. Very bad stuff happens. We should just leave it alone. Besides, the fic will get better! Promise! Killing it now would be premature.”He nodded fervently. “Come on, you guys must have a portal device, let’s go already!”
“He’s me from the future, I’m sure of it,” Artell said emphatically. “Uh... don’t ask me how I know.” He blushed again.
“In that case,” July began, “you can figure out how to neuralyze the TARDIS, while I take care of berethead.” With that, she threw her neuralyzer at Artell’s head and stamped back to the Sue’s location.
The neuralyzer clattered Artell in the forehead, but he was able to scramble his hands and catch it before it fell to the floor. “I don’t even know how to use this thing yet!”
Future Artell grabbed it. “I do. Neuralyze a TARDIS... hmm, I think I’ve done something a bit like this before...”He fiddled with it for a moment and managed to open the chrome shell, exposing electronics. “It was an AI that time, though, but it’s pretty much the same thing isn’t it?” He looked at Artell.
“I have no idea what you are talking about. I’ve neuralyzed an AI? Wait, I will neuralyze an AI?”
“Let’s not go there. No time.” Future Artell dove into the panel that Artell had cracked open and pulled out two wires. “Yeah, this should do it, looks as good as any. It will last for maybe thirty seconds, we need to bug out once I do it.”
Artell nodded and ran back to where July and the Sue were.
The Sue, dummy that it was, had been somehow shoved through the straps of the backpack sideways, preventing her from escaping. She was face down to the floor, the pack itself on top, July rifling through the bag’s front pocket. “Aha!” She pulled out a second neuralyser, and switched her eyeglasses to shades, and there was a quick FLASH at the dummy’s face.
July opened a new portal, and with a quick prod at the dummy, deflated it. “All out who’s going out!”
She threw the backpack, with the dummy still tangled in the straps, through. Artell knelt over the prone Sue and searched through her pockets, pulling out the sonic screwdriver and stashing it in his own pocket.
“Neuralyzing!” Future Artell shouted, stuck the wires into the opened up neuralyzer, closed his eyes and activated the device. It flashed and the TARDIS’s shaking and noise halted immediately. Future Artell opened his eyes and looked around the dark TARDIS. “I can’t believe that worked,” he muttered, shoved the wires away and ran away. “Come on, let’s go!”he shouted at Artell, grabbed him by the shoulders, and hauled the both of them through the portal.
July stepped in immediately after. She looked distinctly unimpressed.
As she emerged through the portal, the two Artells were in a bundle on the floor. In a moment they got up and tried to not look disheveled and embarrassed in an extremely similar fashion. The portal disappeared.
“Okay, no more excuses. Time to explain” Artell said to Future Artell.
Future Artell slumped to a chair nearby. “We did the right thing. Well, I helped you do the right thing. That fic improves noticeably over time, if you don’t kill it. And, uh.” He fidgeted with his fingers. “Puppies and sunshine, that sort of thing.”
“And if we’d killed off the fic?”Artell asked.
“No puppies nor sunshine. Nope. None.” Future Artell said firmly.
“I’m going to want more details than that.”
“I’d love to but I really can’t,” Future Artell said apologetically. “Not only is it ridiculously complicated to the point that it’s hard for me to keep track of it, I promised I wouldn’t give away certain... things.” He glanced at July.
“The less I can get away with telling Upstairs, the better. But like hell if you’re sticking around here.”She started to shove the two towards the response center’s exit, only to stop when a taller young woman with blonde hair wearing a skirt entered the room.
“July? What are you doing?”
“Nothing, nothing! Just getting rid of some trash!” She promptly tipped a dented metal wastebasket over Artell’s head.
“Hey!” Artell shouted, which turned out to be a mistake, as the shout echoed and echoed inside the wastebasket.
“We’re not trash! In fact... oh never mind.” Future Artell said. “Oh, hello Calpur... Librar... hello person I definitely don’t know well.”
Library gave him a confused look in return. “Hello.” She returned her look to July. “Will I be getting an explanation, later?”
“Probably not,” July said.
Artell took the wastebasket off and handed it over to Library. “Let’s just go. We’ll sort this out with the Flowers.” He turned back to July. “Thanks for... everything. Helping me get acclimatized, you know. That sort of thing.” He extended his hand.
“There's a banana peel on your shoulder,” she told him.
Artell turned his head around. There was, in fact, a banana peel on his shoulder. As he plucked it off and dropped it in the wastebasket, Future Artell grabbed him (again).
“At least I got a sonic screwdriver out of it...” Artell’s voice echoed from the corridor as they disappeared.
“I really shouldn’t leave you alone, anymore,” Library remarked, as the Artells left. “Now, who were those two?”
“New guy I was told to take on a mission and his older experienced future self who came back to the present to stop us from completing our mission which involved a sentient Mary Sue TARDIS and a bit of an annoying Sue who wasn’t as terrible as most go,” her partner replied.
Library sighed. “I really oughtn’t leave you alone anymore.”
“Probably not.” July turned towards Library. “So,” she began, in singsong, “how did your date go?” She grinned wickedly, and was rewarded with the sight of her normally composed partner turning beet red.
“It was not a date, July. It was only a discussion over coffee.”
“Suuuure it was.”
She shook her head. “Well, what did you think of the new agent that you were on a mission with, then?”
“Kind of cute. I’m wondering how he managed to get recruited though, he’s not the usual type. That, and he tribbled out on me.”
“I went in with one, came out with two? He multiplied on me!”
“Of course, July, of course.”
After note: Okay, so you’re probably wondering why we actually didn’t kill the Sue, what with all the egregious charges earlier. As we already noted, the story improved vastly since we began the mission.
Some of the problems noted do continue on, beyond just the initial chapters, but the Sue and the other OCs do get further characterization that makes them more rounded and not flat or boring to read about. We’re confident that Cherry3456 will actually continue to improve as she writes more- like everyone does when they’re writing stories, as compared to things written only to emphasize the specialness of their beloved character.
It was still an excuse for a rather unusual ending, so it’s all good.