Backstage, Mia eyed her extended clan.
"Did /you/ have something to do with this?"
Much rhubarb along the lines of 'Who, us?'.
Mia gave them the Evil Eye. "It's _me_. _Mia_. Cut the crap."
They shuffled their feet.
"...We were just keeping an eye on you," Tami said.
"Keeping an eye on me?!" Mia exploded. "Knocking the nominees out, tying them
up, and locking them in a cupboard is keeping an eye on me?"
"They were trying to bribe you." Tami explained. "We thought we'd get them out
of the way so you didn't have to bother."
"Uh-huh." Mia said.
"No, really." Sabii said. "We thought we'd have a look around-"
"-like you do-" Calia said.
"-and we overheard what they wanted to do." Sabii waggled her eyes. "Very
explicity, when it came to that blonde one with the big-"
"I can guess..." Mia murmured. "...And of course, being the good space pirates
you are, you robbed them blind."
"Well, of /course!/" Tami said. "We weren't going to pass up a chance like
/that/, were we?"
The others shook their heads.
Mia glared at them, setting off another bout of shuffling.
Then she broke into a grin.
"I've missed you guys, you know that?"
The others blushed.
"GROUP HUG!" Calia yelled.
"Oh fr-" Mia started.
Whatever she was about to say was never completed, because she was almost
immediately catpiled (ahem).
Elliot Messerschmitt marched towards the room of one Luna Inverse, intent on
presenting her with an injunction forbidding her from interaction with any
characters outside 'Slayers' continiuity - an injunction which included her
position as a part-time waitress at This Time Round.
There were many throughout the Outside Dimensions who could have told him why
this was a bad idea, had they been so inclined, including Coyote and the
Serpent's Champion, who upon learning the identity of the Best Drama Short
Fiction presenter had briefly contemplated attempting to switch the envelopes,
then just as briefly contemplated what would happen _when_ Luna got hold of
them - not if, _when_ - and in a rare moment of unanimity had mutually decided
to stay well out of it.
Sadly for Mr Messerschmitt, there was no-one around to tell him any of this.
With the kind of assurance that comes only with utter ignorance (/especially/
when it comes to Luna Inverse), he knocked on Luna's door.
"Yeah?" Luna said from inside.
"Miss Luna Inverse?"
"Yeah?" Luna said again.
"Elliot Messerschmitt, of the law firm of Fokker, Messerchmitt, Curtis,
Polikarpov, and Zappa. I'm here to present you with an injunction."
"For what?" Anyone familiar with Luna hearing /that/ tone in her voice would
have turned and run - would in fact have made sure they were never in a position
to hear it. As far as Elliot was concerned, however, it was no different from
the reactions he normally got presenting an injunction.
For that alone, it could be presumed that Elliot Messerschmitt was about to get
exactly what he deserved.
"My clients, the Continuity Restoration and Preservation Society, have filed a
suit to halt any and all activities between the properties known as 'Doctor Who'
and 'Slayers'. As of now, all interaction between characters from these
properties must cease."
"Uh-huh." Luna said. "Hold on a moment."
She opened the door.
"Ah," Elliot said. "Your papers, Miss Inverse."
Luna took them in hand. "Mind if we go over this?"
"Of course, Miss Inverse," Elliot said, finally happy things were going the way
he was used to.
Luna closed the door.
There was a brief and terrible silence.
Then Elliot Messerchmitt bolted out of Luna's room with another less-than-
dignified squall, running as if a thousand angry clients were on his heels.
Luna stuck her head out from her room, looking in the direction Elliot had fled,
and gave a shrug.
"And now," Neimi said, "to present the award for Best Drama Short Fiction, Miss
Luna Inverse, part-time waitress and Knight of Ceipheed."
Oddly enough, the sight of Luna Inverse's entrance on-stage did /not/ trigger an
outbreak of drooling.
She was very well-built, certainly; her tight uniform left no doubt on /that/
account. And what could be seen of her face certainly suggested attractiveness;
however, her shoulder-length hair fell over her eyes, hiding her gaze from
What prevented any outbreak of drooling was the deep and certain feeling that
settled over all watching that doing any such thing would be extremely hazardous
to their future well-being.
"Thanks," Luna told Neimi.
Then she stepped up to the podium.
"First nominee," she said. "'Go Tell It on the Mountain'. 'Badlands' story by
B. K. Willis."
It was smaller than the ancient windows had been, barely ten feet
high. It differed in design, too. It was simpler, more basic, with
none of the flourishes and detailed background that had marked
the old windows. And rather than a saint or a savior or a prophet
of old with uplifted eyes, the likeness was of a swordsman in
black, his weapon point-first on the ground, head downcast. No
face was visible, but the posture even in the stiff and stylized
medium of leaded glass suggested a vast weariness, as though
only the blade and an effort of will kept the man standing. There
was no halo above the image, no swarm of adoring cherubs in
attendance. Only a simple geometric background design in
primary colors to counterpoint the image, with its somber black
cloak and gray sword grasped in scarlet-dappled hands.
The image was strange, but not the strangest thing. By
comparison to much of what had happened during the Great Fall
and since, when the earth became a poisonous womb for
monsters and Man's own creations rebelled against their makers,
the appearance of a curiously-designed window did not occasion
much alarm. What was rather more peculiar was that it was only
visible from inside the cathedral ruins.
Viewed from the outside, the chunk of wall offered only the same
blank stone face it always had. It was only when one went
around to the other side that the glass became visible, about
five feet up the wall. And though the window seemed to be set
against flat gray stone, though even if it had another side, that
side would have faced north, the window always gleamed dully
as though the last rays of the setting sun were streaming through
it. Even at night.
"Next," Luna continued. "'Chains'. 'Then Do That Over' story by Imran Inayat."
Katie looked back at the school which had been her home and prison for the last
decade, then out at the town that surrounded it.
She didn't know any more. She didn't know _anything_ any more. Natalie had come
into her life unasked, proceeded to shake up what she thought she'd known, and
then finished off by shattering one of the most fundamental tenets of her
She wanted to go back.
She wanted to stay with Natalie.
She wanted to go back.
She wanted to meet Natalie's friend.
She didn't know _what_ she wanted, only that the outside world was big and
terrifying and lonely and dear God she wanted to go back in where she knew how
She looked back at Natalie.
But it would be far, far lonelier. Now, moreso than ever.
And even Natalie's blithe insanity was preferable to that.
Had anyone been looking at the audience during this, they would have seen the
ghostly Katie, a translucent figure with lank black hair and thick glasses,
sneering at the screen.
The two rather more solid girls sitting at the table with her, however -
Natalie, a blonde with protruding blue eyes, and Megan, a tall girl with long
brown hair - were watching the screen with interest.
No-one paid them the slightest bit of attention.
"Next." Luna said. "Story by Paul Shryer. 'Out of the Corner of My Eye'."
His body twitched a few times and my enhanced hearing could clearly
detect his attempts at breathing but it was obvious to me that he was
not long for this world. At least his head was turned the opposite
way, I would not have to see his face as he died.
My body had long since reached the same conclusion about the threat
this young man represented and had started advancing again to the
north. The leader had ordered this area cleared, all hostiles
neutralized. My body is carrying out those orders with ruthless
efficiency. This young man was its third victim so far, I knew there
would be more.
"I have become death, the destroyer of worlds." I had read this
quote once, a lifetime ago, I think it was written by a scientist
who had created the ultimate weapons which had ended the last
Great War on my planet. In many ways I have become the embodiment of
this quote. I hate that fact. I hate what I have become, but I can
do nothing about it. I have no control over my own actions anymore.
My body completes the orders it is given without my consent. In a
way I envy the young man lying before me. At least his horror is
over, mine will not end.
My body continued on.
"Next," Luna said, "Story by Indefatigable. 'Resisting a rest'."
He was suddenly aware of many things, now that he could afford to stop
ignoring them: mainly, the persistent dull ache of rapidly-healing
injuries, including three cracked ribs that he hadn't noticed before--
when did *that* happen?-- and the lingering memory of a more severe and
And for now, he realised, it was alright. His body would heal, his mind
would sort itself out. For now, there was time enough for that.
Instead, he turned his attention to the radiant warmth of the fire, the
soft-rough touch of the upholstery against the side of his face, the
gentle sound of her breathing as she slept just beyond an arm's reach
away, and the gentle presence of his Ship in the back of his mind.
He closed his eyes and slept, and neither one of them woke until they
were good and ready.
"Last," Luna said. "Story by Clive May. 'Travels with Teddy'."
There came, very softly, the sound of a TARDIS materialisation. A soft
silver radiance glowed by the door, lightening the gloom. In its heart stood
a little girl, clutching a thread bear teddy to her cheek. The girl peered
around with wondering eyes. Then a brilliant smile lit her face; and she
shimmered, and faded away. The familiar source less light, soft and silvery,
brightened the console room. The air hummed gently.
The Doctor withdrew slowly from under the console and stood up. The Time
Rotor was moving up and down. The motion was a little jerky, as though the
motivating spirit was feeling its way uncertainly; but even as he watched,
the motion eased into an assured rhythm.
Propped atop the rotor was a threadbare teddy, its button eyes bright. The
Doctor took it down. Holding it gently to his chest, he gazed all around at
the white roundelled walls in wonder, his expression radiant.
"Welcome home, Old Girl," he whispered.
Luna opened the envelope.
"And winner is 'Travels with Teddy', by Clive May."
Captain Leader, being a Bella devotee of some standing, had fully intended to
threaten the presenter of the Best Drama Long Fiction award with ultraviolence
unless 'A Daughter of the Long Pine' won.
Unfortunately, the good Captain had the bad fortune to encounter, in quick
succession, male-form Nyssa, female-form Fifth Doctor, and Captain Jack
Harkness, causing certain Issues to rise up once more from the depths of his
He was therefore unable to carry through on his intentions, as he abruptly
realised he had important business involving Candy, a cupboard, and several
lengths of rope.
/Intentional/ business, this time.
When the denizens of Tribulation learned they were up for an award, the priests
of the town met in conference and decided that they should be the ones to
attend the ceremony.
Unspoken, naturally, was their intention to meet the presenter of the Best Long
Drama and 'explain' the virtues of their cause.
Unfortunately, upon their arrival at the ceremony, someone saw fit to offer
them sweets from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
When questioned on this point afterwards, the original Doctors denied any
involvement, cross their hearts and hope to die. What made the questioner think
they had anything to do with this? Sniggering? What sniggering? This was an
unfortunate prank which obviously went wrong, and they fully intended to find
out what had happened.
Certain members of the cast of 'Maskirovka' had intended to fix the award for
Best Long Drama. However, certain /other/ members of the cast intended that the
award should go as planned, whether because they wanted the award to be above
board, because they wanted the award to be /seen/ as above board, or because it
was in their interest that the award was above board.
The end result of all this was that /none/ of them ended up interfering, the
cast members' various plans having neutralised each other quite effectively.
It took them a little while to realise this, though.
Elliot Messerschmitt _had_ intended to serve one Kelly Kendin with an
injunction preventing any interaction between 'Doctor Who' and the comic series
Unfortunately, Elliot was unaware of a certain device from that series, a
device which left no signature and therefore could not be traced after use.
Its function was fairly obvious from its name: the bowel disruptor.
Elliot later put his sudden urge to run for the toilet down to food poisoning.
"And now," Neimi said politely, "to present the award for Best Drama Long
Fiction, another of my fellow co-workers, Miss Kelly Kendin."
By now, that part of the audience unaware of the Proprietor's hiring practices
had utterly given up on what to expect. He could hire an /orang-utan/ and they
wouldn't be surprised.
That part of the audience who /were/ aware of the Proprietor's hiring practices
eyed him ever more suspiciously.
As it turned out, Kelly wasn't an orang-utan.
With her pale grey skin, large solid green eyes, and neatly bobbed black hair,
she looked like nothing so much as a cross between a human and one of UFOlogy's
The little black dress she was wearing catalysed not a few nosebleeds in the
"Thanks," Kelly told Neimi.
Then she stepped up to the podium.
"Our first nominee for Best Drama Long Fiction is Clive May's 'A Daughter of the
Long Pine', exploring the history of one of the characters from the 'Desert of
Fear' round-robin, Bella."
While Shamba was still undecided on this, any decision was taken out of
her hands by her adopted daughter.
"The Earthers are my people, Mother," she declared. "We should go to
"But Bella, they are my enemies. They will shoot me down."
"But they won't shoot me, mother," Bella declared. "They have not hurt
any of the Masters' slaves. And I won't let them hurt you. I'll tell
them you're my mother, and not to hurt you either. They won't hurt you
when they see that you are with me."
Shamba knew this was not true; but there was really no choice any more.
Shamba glanced back at the Ogron troops taking cover at the far end of
the corridor. She and Bella would be spotted any moment. She took
"Come, Bella," she urged. "We will go to your people together.
Perhaps?... Perhaps?... Perhaps the All Mother will intercede for
Shamba led Bella towards the intersection. Before stepping into view
of the Terrans, Shamba crouched down to be at eye-level with Bella.
Shamba quickly unlooped the Long Pine Totem from about her neck and set
it over Bella's head. "There now," she said. "You truly are my
daughter." Taking Bella's shoulders gently in her massively clawed
paws, she hugged her daughter. Then she stood up, and took her
daughter's hand. She steeled herself to step forward and said, "No
matter what happens to us, Bella, you must always remember that you are
a Daughter of the Long Pine."
"Next," Kelly continued, "we have Joel Davies's 'Blink of an Eye', a 'What If'
story of what might have happened had the Dark Carnival not been defeated..."
Stepping away from the cage, David's knees go weak as his mind struggles to
accept the events of the last few moments. He glances uneasily about the
clearing, his thoughts racing though a tortured maze of anger and dismay.
The identity of the caged figure would mean death or hell for David, if the
priests found out. What should he do? He would need help, he knew. Whom
could he trust?
Then sound bursts from the freak tent again, a demented musical phrase,
almost obscene in its insane cheerfulness. The tent beckons invitingly, its
glamour snaking out to ensnare David's turbulent mind.
David hesitates, tries to resist, but is again pulled forward, this time
into the tent's maw, the canvas of the door flap slithering obscenely and
warmly against his wrist, like so much bleached-out flesh. He has a moment,
just a fleeting moment, to look--to see the blue eyes running like soft wax,
the fixed undertaker's grin, to the hear the horrid, lunatic grunting--then
the thing is moving, undulating toward him, like a noisome wave.
David Ogden begins to scream.
"And finally," Kelly said, "we have 'Maskirovka', by Helen Fayle, her current
story in the 'Book of Taliesin' universe, as Kastchei and Vivienne track down an
adversary to the Giant's Dance - only to find much, much more going on behind
the scenes, including the involvement of a few old acquaintances..."
He [Kane] sat back heavily in the chair, which creaked in complaint at the
strain it was under. 'Shit. That's all I need.'
'You know something about this?' Locke asked.
'Kiddo, be thankful you don't. Please tell me nothing was taken from that
Locke shrugged. 'Dunno. They shipped seven in, and seven out. That's all I know,
so far. Why?'
'If I'm right, and those are what I think they are - and given where our
unwelcome guests have recently come from, I am right - then we could be in for
more trouble that you could dream of, kiddo.'
Locke perched on the edge of the table to better see his face, and was struck by
how - focussed he looked. There was a distance in his eye that looked right
through her, and something moving in that blue abyssal depth that was wholly
inhuman. It went beyond ruthless, to a place she couldn't even begin to put a
'I want those reports, Locke,' he said distantly, still staring through her.
'Hard copy only.'
She nodded. Agreement was really the only option she had. 'Can't you tell me
what's going on?'
'Later,' he told her. 'When I'm sure.' He pulled himself out of her chair, and
loomed over her, looking down at her as though he'd only just really noticed
that she was there. 'But I want you to do something for me - top priority.'
She raised one eyebrow in query.
'I want a description given to every security shift. You'll find it in the
system. Ask the head to find the file called "Magister".'
'And then?' she asked.
'If anyone shows up answering to that description, shoot on sight, tie the body
up, throw it in a cell, lock the door and call me.'
"And the winner is... 'Maskirovka', by Helen Fayle!" Kelly announced.