*Prelude and Fwoargh.*

It was the eve of the Adrics voting deadline, and the patrons of This Time
Round -- the Boozer Beyond Continuity -- had spent much of the day steadfastly
ignoring the noise and spectacle of the construction-work busily ebbing and
flowing at the back of the bar. This took a certain amount of dedication, given
the slightly irregular and even ridiculous nature of the proceedings; but hey,
this was TTR, where anything may happen; and besides, rumour had got about that
responsibility for a good chunk of the festivities had been wished onto Trader
Grey, thus strongly hinting to many potentially-inquiring minds that they did
not in fact want to know, and reminding no few others that, curious though they
might remain, it was almost certainly better not to be an over-attentive
witness. Especially since the Proprietor of that diamond among dives must,
necessarily, have been in it up to his money-belt, or money-collar, or indeed
more than possibly money-hatband!

But alas! there shall always be those among us as can *not* leave well enough
alone, very likely because one such is, proverbially, born every minute.

"This," Sam Jones observed to the Eighth Doctor, with the air of one who has
put her finger on a great and hitherto unsuspected cosmic truth, "isn't right."
She gestured accusingly at the infinite number of rhesus monkeys busily
permuting random junk-type objects (which admirably combined environmental
friendliness with the service of the bottom line in their common nickage from
the municipal dump) into an assembly more or less resembling a stage, under the
laid-back direction of an anthropomorphic cartoon elephant richly arrayed in
grey cashmere and cloth-of-silver and gleaming subcontinental jewellery that
was curiously rendered in silver and pewter with a suspiciously Welsh accent.

"Yeah, well, it got even sillier after you blew the scene," Fitz said darkly.
"Doc and Anji and me've been on this guy's home *planet* since then...." He
drifted off into a brooding reverie, which those who knew him best rightly
attributed to the after-effects of certain scenes of such vital enormity and
brain-biffing doo-dah as to have marked his sensitive artist's psyche

"Oh, get over Jessica Rabbit already!" Anji exclaimed impatiently. "The point
is there's an *infinite* -- "

Sam looked completely gobsmacked. "I *mean*, I'm sure I know that company's
name, and it's definitely on one of the ethical boycott lists... or two... or
all of them... Doctor, who are they?"

slowly off the back of one of the infinite number of blue overalls being worn,
on a basis of one-to-one correspondence, by the aforesaid surfeit of simians.
"That's very curious indeed!"

"Why's that?" Anji's interest momentarily perked up.

"Because it means nothing to me of any kind! And yet..." The Doctor's voice
became low and haunted. "...I have a strange intuition... that when I lost my
memories... I made myself forget one of those names... for some reason... some
terrible reason...!"

Anji was just on the point of delicately hinting that this now
all-too-well-worn excuse might still cut some ice with some isolate corners of
fandom, but was unlikely so to slay the importunities of the Revenue or the
Frivolous Fraud Office or any of the other massive organs of the State which
might feel they had some legitimate interest in the Doctor's blatantly
implausible business affairs, when a diversion occurred. Finding the stage
completed for the tenth time that afternoon, the cartoon elephant made a
prodigious standing leap ditto, and came down upon the construction like a ton
of do. tusker.

The entire room committed the already-traditional pre-emptive flinch, only for
the shocking truth to emerge that, flatly against all scientific and historical
precedent, *nothing had collapsed catastrophically at all*. The elephant jumped
up exuberantly in a spirit of sheer triumph, loudly blowing his own trumpet and
dancing his way back downwards on solid air like an exceedingly chunky Fred
Astaire, whilst making a trunk call on what appeared to be some form of
wrist-phone. A horrid suspicion began to fall upon the assembled company.

The celebrating monkeys now formed not so much a circle as a fantastically
complex fractal loop, thereby enabling one and all to disappear instantaneously
up their own orifices, in a collective sense, if you follow my meaning,
assuming hypothetically that you have the slightest inclination so to do.

"Tusk, tusk!" pshawed the Doctor.

Miranda boxed his ears smartly from behind. "Daddy! Behave!"

"Yes, dear," he agreed sarcastically. "It's a necessary consequence of being
ani---" This smack-worthy retort was fortunately consigned to oblivion by THAT
which now emerged from the geometrical anomaly into which spacetime had been
forced by the monkeys' cheeky exit.

For behold! from the rogue PLOT hole thusly opened up into the sacrosanct
precincts of the 'Round itself, thereby causing many of the usual suspects to
leap, stagger, or snore to instant action stations, a Dromedary was come; and
after the manner of Dromedaries did it stink and sneer like unto a bad 'un. And
lo, the Dromedary was as cartoony as the Elephant. And beside the Dromedary did
walk in stately procession like unto the train of Lady Bast three noble cartoon
she-cats: and the first thereof was a blue-robed Lynx of fair port and cheerful
countenance; and the second thereof was a barely-robed Black Panther of mickle
skank, so that Third Romana and various badfic Peris were fain to flounce out
of the bar in high dudgeon; and the third thereof was a fukuferous Siberian
Tiger, and wit you well that there was something indefinably spooky about
*that* one, squire. And each cat did bear a wondrous casket, and on each casket
were written these runes: A C M E.

But upon the Dromedary itself rode that dear and familiar lady who has so often
been described as the very physical antithesis of two-dimensionality -- though
in no literal way any kind of big cat, nonetheless virtually cousin-german to
certain of the same by virtue of being by common acclaim bouncy bouncy bouncy
bouncy fun fun fun fun fun! that immortal, immoral, irresponsible,
irrepressible darling of the Darkside, the petaprovocative exasexy adjectivally
illimitable Mrs Candia Harcourt, former star of the silvery-blue screen under
the more Hollywoodier denomination of 'Candie Harddd'; who, let it be noted,
was respectably dressed for the occasion in the chaste uniform of a Napoleonic

Riding pillion behind her, his hands placed to their apparent mutual
satisfaction in a position new to riderly etiquette, was a porky and mysterious
figure clad in hooded black body-armour that came down into a half-mask;
crowned by jagged silver levin-bolts and bearing a great sawtoothed round
shield slung over his back; and whose general aspect was not unlike that of
some turncoat Captain America from the Evil Trek Universe. Menace sat on his
brow, and malice gleamed from his eyes, and on his shield were scales and
jackhammers and books and skulls, all tesselated in an eye-mazingly busy design
with big fluorescent rose-madder love-hearts.

"YA WHO!" Candy vaulted athletically down from her seat, and her landing was
such that Fitz's eyes and many other susceptible organs in the bar were
likewise set to boinging as if on springs. She bestowed a brisk and smacking
kiss upon the camel's curlaceous lips, whilst her sinister cohort allowed
himself to be helped down by the pantherine cat-girl. "What's up, Doc? --
Faugh, take the Fifth if you like, I was forgetting this is good clean family
fun. On second thoughts, best not take the Fifth either, then. Good to see you
all anyhow! Come on, Cap -- let's get the gear out, live, and ready for
showtime! Hey, Kinki -- you stop trying to get his gear out, live, and yadda,
and get your bootylicious tail on stage with that box! KY, what -- ?"

The Lynx had stilled her dimensionally-advantaged associate's manic
gesticulations by firmly shoving her ACME box into the latter's well-rounded
arms, and was now proceeding serenely in the direction of a booth wherein sat
two normal and one vampiric Willow, a Kennedy, and three individuals strongly
resembling Tara Maclay. "Just a courtesy call," said she. "I'll be with you and
Marchie in some moments."

"Yeah, whatever," Candy dismissed, springing up onto the stage with her motley
crew bringing up the, oh for Dame Paranomasia's sake, *shut up a moment can't
you!?* "Pleased to meet you, messire, nice bit of construction here, my, what a
big proboscis you have!" She shook the mentioned member with a vigorous and
provocative wrist action, causing the mercantile 'Marchie' to heat up and turn
a dull cherry-red with sheerly overwhelming embarrassment.. Captain
Unpleasantly Sinister Anonym added to the pachyderm's distress by
'accidentally' backslapping him with his sawtoothed-shield-hand. Irritably
reattaching a thus-severed flap of ear, Marchie spun around to face his
too-enthusiastic greeter, stepping on said culprit's jackboot by unaccountable
misadventure. The two exotic guests glared at each other for a long moment,
Captain Unacceptably Spurious Acronym stoically ignoring the blows of a
gratuitously produced motor-driven rice-flail now being rained upon his back by
an exasperated Candy.

"I think," stated Marchie after a long pause, that could be called 'pregnant'
in much the same sense as that unlucky chappie in _Alien_, "this phase of my
work is done. I commend to you and your lady this my masterpiece of
simio-aleatoric construction, and myself to the companionable pleasures of yon
bar. I'm sure Kim will be able to see you right putting up the sets, which I
look hugely forward to seeing in action. Mind how you go!" And with one bound,
Jumbo was free, his cloth-of-silver cape billowing impressively as he sank with
eleph---much dignity onto his targeted barstool. Captain I Think I'll Shut Up
Now, and even Candy her faughing formidable self, could be seen eyeing the
eldritch Siberian tiger-lady a tad apprehensively before jointly descending
upon her with mucho bluster. Kinki, like the Depraved Duo's erstwhile mount,
elected to join the broadly-drawn tusker in his devotions at the altar of
s/Bacchus/Insert Culturally Appropriate Deity Here/r.

Adric blinked, and shook his head as if to clear it. "An elephant, a panther,
and a camel walked into a bar?"

The panther told him the punchline.

The elephant span around fifteen times on the barstool, trumpeted so loudly as
to dislodge several perfectly innocent lurkers from the rafters, and galumphed
across the room without once setting foot within the surly bondage of Mistress
Erde. Silver-trimmed soppy pink hearts, somehow at the opposite pole of
existence from the creepy rose-madder ones upon That Captain's destructive
shield, streamed up from his mighty brow with the éclat of so many gigantic
bubbles of champagne.

Sam sniffed. "It wasn't even all that funny..."

"Ssst!" Fitz elbowed her urgently in the ribs. For it was not only the elephant
heading in their general direction. From the opposite side of the bar, where
lurked the Sapphic Seven from the Buffyverse, the lynx-lady came likewise
walking on air, and the hearts that streamed from her fair head were cerulean
blue elegantly framed in white gold. The twin streams of romantic icons met
near the ceiling, entwined like two honeysuckle vines that really need to get a
room right soon now, and reeled in their authors even as they reached out for
each other across the illimitable barrens of barroom-space.



Elephant and lynx came together in rapturous embrace. An overstressed Very
Fabric discharged its accumulated standing potential in an electrum flash of
descriptive energy, causing local reality to strobe violently for three full
frames. Great mournful onyx eyes looked deep and for an eternally-dilated
moment into eyes of slitted electric blue.

"Does that *always* happen with these guys?" Grace wondered rhetorically, and
just perhaps a tad jealously, to the Doctor. Her professional outrage as a
heart surgeon might have had a bit to do with it, too.

"Oh, yes," Kyra assured her equably, advancing on the Doctor's table paw-in-paw
with her partner as if nothing at all had happened. "You must be Dr Aglaia's
plenotype? Delighted to meet you! I'm Kyra Ceksum, Carrie's toontype: this is
my partner and Author, 'Marchie' Marchant-Ivory, Rajah of Rupees, Nabob of Nice
Little Earners, He Who Gives Jumbo Value, called -- "

"I believe I have the translation algorithm down now," Eighth cut in
ruthlessly. "Toonside Trader Grey, in essence?"

"In person!" boomed that Being of Substance. "And over in the blue corner -- "
The Black Panther was demonstrating to a pop-eyed Harry Sullivan that it ain't
just the nice girls who love a sailor, "my truly professional sister-out-law
ShaLaLaLaLaKincaid, alias Kinki Qt, cognate to your, er, that is to say your
*Candy*. Helping your MCs set up their... kit... is their younger sib Kimiko
2K2, and if your Calypso resembles her even slightly, I'm sorry, but I just
don't believe there are two of them." Marchant-Ivory wiggled his impressive
ears uneasily. "Correspondences can only go *so* far, by Ganesh!"

"Why the camel?" Anji really, truly didn't want to know. She observed the words
emerge from her mouth with a sort of horrified fascination.

"Our youngest sister," Kyra explained. "Ca'at, the Camel Who Humps
Continuity -- but that's a long story for another time. We're here to fill in
for our plenotypes, who are unavoidably detained on high errantry."

"I'm picking up a strong signal," Compassion noted. "We're all

"Mmm." The Doctor rubbed the side of his nose. "I see Candy's 'errantry' hasn't
taken her all that far."

"She isn't in it," Marchant-Ivory told him. "She's presenting the show,
counting the votes, that sort of thing. Should she win something as a
*candidate*, I and my fair partner persuaded her that it wouldn't be quite the
article to take it herself; so instead, in that case, she'll give it to Kinki
on her own behalf. What?"

"Nothing," said Fitz through gritted teeth, and then toodled off outside to
make strange whooping noises.

"Curious fellow," the elephant remarked. "In any case, you see that every
detail has, as you would expect from the good old family firm, been well and
truly seen to. Not a stone has been left unturned to make sure that all shall
go, yea, as smoothly as if your own native crew were here _in toto_ to attend
to the festivities. Nothing can possibly go -- "


On the stage, the magnificent Mrs Candia Harcourt had been diligently warming
up the mike. Heads now turned as that instrument, its static-charge capacity
exceeded beyond its wildest, and we mean wildest, dreams, proceeded
incontinently to spit forth great gouts of blue-white sparkage. Candy's eyes
rolled; she shuddered; she licked her shocked lips; her platinum hair stood up
like a fright-wig.

The microphone slumped in its stand. "I don't understand, this has never
happened before..."

Captain Who [Nah. -- Ed.] booted it venomously off the stage, into, with
pleasing though cheap appropriateness, the massed ranks of the Wondrous and
Adorable Nyssa's Knights-Errant Regiment. "Pretty red-headed swingin'
nymphomaniac hairdresser from Chipping Sodbury, GSOH, GNVQ, COSHH," he bawled
to the heavens, "*stat!*"

Kimiko deftly produced an anti-static spray, and began spritzing it briskly
into her para-relative's hair, mere instants ahead of the frenetic whirl of
costume-changing and tugging-onto-one's-head-a-ginger-wig that was the
optimistic Kinki. "The management," she intoned to the audience at large,
"apologises for any inconvenience beyond the usual, and pledges to Get On With

The Doctor gave Marchant-Ivory a long look.

"Haroo!" the Princely Pachyderm bugled, looking mildly put-upon. "Of *course*
things can go BANG! WHOOSH! SPLUTTER!; but what I was trying to convey is, as
even the most notorious gloom-monger of Gallifrey can plainly see, it is
*certainly* the case that nothing can go seriously *wro---*"

And Kyra kissed him, lightly but firmly, and the dread incantation was brought
to nothing.

"Thank you," said the Doctor, with great sincerity.

"I think that's my line," a slightly stunned cartoon elephant babbled,

Kyra lynxed his arm with great fondness, and flicked one of her shapely ears
blithely in the Doctor's direction.

"Never mind," she assured the whole mess of us. "It'll be all right on the

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Epilogue - Summary

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