As the avocado troll's deputy arrives...

"Hostess," the turquoise troll said, a little breathlessly, as she found the avocado troll leaning over Imran's shoulder, "a new guest has just arrived, and he has some... interesting abilities. I've been watching him since he appeared in the cul-de-sac, and he seems to be able to change his form at will -- without the influence of the gremlins. Do you think he might be able to transform the --" and here, her voice dropped to a whisper "-- F.B.?"

The founder straightened, thoughtful. "Perhaps," she said, slowly. "Though I suspect it's probably just a skilful use of 'Authorial Persona manipulation', and is something he can only work on himself, not others... Still, A.P.M. is closely related in fictional mechanics to Typo Transformation. Yes... yes... He might have expertise which could prove very helpful indeed. Go explain the situation to him, and see if he won't join our little pow-wow."

The turquoise troll ran off to do just that, while the hostess and Imran returned to their study of his keyboard.

The turquoise troll runs up to Philip Cotterell (for that is the new guest's name - note, that's one l [ell] and no 1's [ones]), who is now feeling somewhat more comfortable as a result of a friendly greeting and a jelly baby, and rapidly explains the situation.

Philip chews thoughtfully on his jelly baby. "I'm not sure if I can help. But just give me a moment and I'll join you. There's something I should do first."

He walks over to the Douglas Adams memorial stall, removes his hat and stands in silent respect for a few seconds. He starts to turn away, and is then struck by a thought; turning back, he closes his eyes and concentrates for a moment, then reaches inside his coat and extracts from a pocket a small cardboard replica of a 1950's talking-type wireless set which he places on a small wooden table next to the stall (which possibly did not exist a few moments previously). In front of the wireless set he places a small card, on which is written:

"Sir Harry Secombe, 1921-2001 : Ying-Tong-Iddle-I-Po"

"Well, why not," he announces to nobody in particular, "after all, The Goon Show was certainly pro-fun, and there are bound to be a few fans here."

After another moment of silence, Philip replaces his hat, and proceeds across the hall to join the avocado troll and Imran.

"It's like this," he says. "I don't really know what my abilities are here. I've never studied fictional mechanics. In fact, I'm not really an author - or at least I wasn't before I got here." After a thoughtful pause, he continues: "I think that I can do anything that I believe I'm allowed to get away with." Another pause.

"Now, I'm not sure if I can transform this Flame Bringer into something benign - I'm really not sure. But I do have an idea. Perhaps all I need is a little technobabble to convince me that such a transformation conforms to the rules of fictional mechanics as they apply in this particular reality! Yes! Do you think that one of you would be kind enough to ask one of the Doctors to whip up an Authorial Persona Manipulation Field Transference Projector for me?"

Imran and the hostess exchange a knowing glance. A slow grin spreads across each of their faces, simultaneously.

The hostess turns to Philip, still grinning. "Why ask just one Doctor," she says, "when you can ask all eight--"

The expression on Philip's face betrays the following thought: "Because I want an APMFTP, not an eight-way argument!"

The Doctor looks up with a toothy grin from the bottom of an empty pint glass of Guinness, and says to Philip, "But don't you realise - you don't need an Authorial Persona Manipulation Field Transference Projector at all!"

Philip seems slightly unsure whether it is the good Doctor articulating this thought or his Guinness speaking for him: "Ah, I'm not sure I do see..."

The Doctor jumps up to his feet, his scarf twisting in the air like an electrocuted snake, such is the suddenness of his ascent. "You'd only need a Field Transference Projector to stabilise the Fictional Space-Time Vortex if only a single author were present!"

Imran says incisively, "And that's not the case is it?"

A younger man with a fresh, rather innocent face takes up the conversation. "What I believe I am... er, he is trying to say, is that all this time, the various authors have thought themselves in complete control of the Fictional Space-Time Vortex when in fact they are only acting in isolation."

Philip says, "Yes, I think I can see that."

"-- after all, it sounds like all we need to do is --" and at this, Imran chimed in, and they finished together: "make some adjustments to the Time-Space Visualizer!". The troll nodded. "Yes," she continued, "and that was a group effort."

An older Doctor suddenly strolls up behind the troll. "Exactly! A group effort, my child, means that there is no ability for one author to determine the fictional outcome."

At this, Philip's expression clears slightly. "Well," he thinks, "if they've all done something similar together before...."

The Doctor pulls on his lapels and tut tuts. "It's been done several times before. But not without great danger, in each instance..."

She turned to number six. "You pull yourselves together for this," she said to him, "while I get the TSV out of the closet."

The Doctor closes his eyes with a look of profound concentration. "My other selves, I implore myself now to have come to him."

A tall Doctor with a shock of white hair strolls up and mutters, "Great balls of fire! My high Gallifreyan must have slipped in my old age, I don't normally confuse my personal pronouns like that!"

Another Doctor wanders up and helps himself to one of the sandwiches and dips it in a savoury sauce. "Not to worry old chap, you see, I've always known how to speak it!"

"Ah ha, the scarecrow. How am I?"

"You're fine as I usually am, fancy pants!"

And finally an eighth individual Doctor arrives, beaming brightly and rakishly adjusting the angle of his hat. "Well, it looks as though we're all here then! What was this about a fictional vortex?"

Philip watches the Sixth Doctor gather his other selves. He looks like he wants to make sure that they know what they're being asked to do, but isn't entirely sure that it would be wise to ask; he seems particularly concerned about the Fourth and Eight Doctors, not being sure how Time Lords metabolise alcohol in this reality.

A rather washed-out looking, half-human Doctor looks up from his place in the sculling races, peering at his other seven, younger faces. "I think I'm feeling a bit queer in this regeneration. Would one of me give me a glass of water?"

"We won't need the Hand of Omega, this time, will we?" Sixth asked a little nervously.

"Oh, I shouldn't think so, since we're not dealing with different corners of the multi-verse... yet. A couple dozen D batteries should do the trick." She chortled to herself happily, as she went off to dig around in her TARDIS's boot cupboard, since there is nothing a Pro-Fun troll likes better than to turn nastiness inside out.

'Hey! Get off! That's my drink!'

'Wait...' our hostess says. 'I think Daibhid's bag may have something in mind...'

'And something on my keyboard...' Imran mutters.

He cracks his knuckles. 'I don't know if this will work... the gremlins may not be strong enough... but, hey. It's either this, or experience a Spelling Flame...'

'Right... "Spell Fame Bringer"...'

Our hostess blinks. 'What?'

Imran blinks at what Daibhid's bag has written using his keyboard. 'I have no idea... Who on Earth brings fame for spells?'

The result of Imran's typo, however, has... unexpected effects.

Cameron looks up from his plate of food.

"Oh no - not again!"

Somewhere on a gramophone, the record gets stuck in a groove...

"I told you we should have borrowed Uncle Pete's set of Technics rather than trying to mix on these things..." said Gordon.

"Well, it was worth a try," replied Igor, who was currently trying to DJ with an old gramophone, a wax cylinder and a reel-to-reel tape player.

He tapped Gordon on the shoulder.

"What's that?" Igor said pointing at a man-shaped/sized package covered in brown paper sitting all by itself in the corner of the barn.

Gordon's eyes went like this...


"Oh bugger...I thought he was still lost in Ibiza?"

A figure burst out of the package, with a black triangular helmet, a flowing white robe, carrying a....microphone?

Igor is suddenly shoved off the decks by a Voord with a big furry hat on.

My name is...

Yartek, I'm the leader of the Alien Voord, Lock away your beers, get your daughters secured! You thought I was blown up, you thought I was dead, With my funky white robe and my triangular head.

Straight out of Marinus, from the acid seas, Had a bit of a problem, with a set of keys. That went in a computer in a big fancy room, Put the last one in and it all went boom!

I'm funkier than James Brown. Sexier than a backless gown. Groovier than Isaac Hayes. More valuable than the Dying Days.

My brother Voord keep on tripping on their flippers, We'd be better off wearing fluffy bunny slippers. The Doctor thought by beating us he did the right thing, Now most of us are kitchen staff at Burger King!

I'm Yartek and these are my alien Voord, through the galaxy we have played and toured. Feel the bassline kick and the breakbeats pound, as we bring you the funkiest sound around!

Wooah-ho! Wooah-ho! Wooah-ho! Wooah-ho!

Yartek suddenly spots Igor and Gordon and runs through the door...without bothering to open it first...

"Quick Igor, after him, he's too funky to be allowed out in public for too long!"

Gordon and Igor exeunt with great rapidity through the wall...

The avocado green troll picks up a small bit of paper left fluttering in their slipstream.

The black-clad lurker had stared with open mouth at the outlandish spectacle Yartek and his Alien Voords had put on.

"My knowledge of early Doctor Who is sadly lacking," she thought and shook her head. Having already consumed one gin & tonic, and now being halfway through her second (as a tribute to DNA she had decided to stick with this drink at the hoedown), her attention was very easily diverted though, and when she saw her hostess reading something she couldn't refrain from peering over her shoulder:

"Sorry to run off like this, but the safety of the multifunkyverse is at stake! We'll try and get back before the end...with biscuits. See ya!"

The avocado green troll suddenly turned and looked up at the lurker with an inquiring but friendly expression on her round face.

"Oh. I'm sorry. I d...d...didn't mean to pry." She stammered. "I was j...j...just curious." She took a deep breath. The troll didn't look angry after all, and it was her hostess. Perhaps she ought to introduce herself?

"May I introduce myself, my name is Ninni and I'm a lurker from Sweden. I'm sorry I didn't bring anything for the buffet, I forgot. What a lot of people there are here, I feel a little lost. Especially since my cat seems to have disappeared. That ... creature ... frightened him, and now I can't find him again."

It all came out in a rush, and she felt rather foolish. "You might think I'm a teenager for all the savoir-faire I'm showing at the moment," she thought wryly.

The troll smiled. "I wouldn't worry," she said to Ninni. "You know how resilient cats are. They've probably all found the cream pots in my TARDIS' pantry by now, anyway. And don't worry about not having brought anything. I, myself, wasn't expecting this to be pot luck, either. It just turned out that way..."

She paused. "But maybe there is something you can do, she added, "I have my doubts that that 'spelling flame-bringer' is what he appears to be. Just for a split second, when he first arrived, I was sure he was someone I knew -- someone we all knew, and that he came here for a reason. But that someone, or something, is interfering. Who (or what) would want us to confuse us like that? And why? Any ideas?"

Daibhid looks up from his futile attempts to herd the cats. "Is one of these yours?" he asks Ninni, pointing vaguely behind him.

Looking over the nervously milling cats, she shook her head. "No, I'm afraid not. He doesn't go on very well with other cats so he's probably slipped away someplace where he can watch the action in safety. And I guess he will soon home in on the cream, he's a glutton. I'll try and stop worrying about him. There are apparently more important things to worry about at the moment."

She looked around the BarnTARDIS that was now full of people of all shapes and sizes giving all signs of enjoying themselves. Even the Flame Bringer seemed to have settled down and was now vainly trying to attract the attention of the barkeep. She noted Adric's sudden appearance, and the robot then exploding and killing him. "I wonder what Nyssa will say. Flagrantly poaching on her territory like that," she smiled to herself. "And what was going on over there?!" Her Scandinavian contemporary and the Ainsley Master were evidently planning to enjoy themselves thoroughly. Perhaps she ought to wander over and see if she could pick up some interesting new techniques... Her hostess' new words however, called her back to the matter at hand.

"Anyway," she said, "That's why Philip and the Doctors need to finish work on the Authorial Personal Transference Field Projector as soon as possible -- so we can discover who the newcomer is, and why he's here -- *and move the story forward*!!"

"Moving forward... Yes, that's what's wrong here!" Ninni suddenly realised. Nothing ever seemed to lead to anything. There was Adric again for example, walking through the door after a short woman in a bright yellow baseball cap. And Yartek and his Voords had just disappeared, and everyone just seemed to talk and talk. "I bet Auntie and the Master won't get anywhere either," she thought glumly. In fact...

"Look! All the Doctors have started bickering too," she exclaimed. "You do seem to be right," she said to their hostess, "some force seems bent on making all the potentially interesting stories fritter out into nothing. We must do something."

She hurried off to where the Doctors were loudly arguing. "What are you lot doing?" she asked sternly. "I thought you were supposed to help with the APTFP. Not browbeating yourself because he's conducting an in-depth study of the human lifestyle. Something I think several of you could do well to try," she fluttered her eyelashes at the Fifth Doctor and moved closer to him.

"But," says Philip, looking concerned, "if you don't think it's a real FB any more.... I was going to transform it into something benign, to make it safe - now I don't think I know what you want me to do. How can I transform it into whatever it really is if noone knows what it really is? Have I missed something?"

"No, not you," the troll said apologetically, "me. I'm the one who missed picking up the clues..." She made her way over to the huddle of Doctors. "Rather than transform our guest, do you think you could calibrate this gadget to reveal his true identity?" she asked. "Are the two tasks really that different from each other?"

Imran snaps his fingers. 'Just a moment...'

A short, brown-haired girl in a truly bizarre yellow and green ensemble pops into existence.

'Oh, thanks so much...' she complains.

'Allie...' Imran says.

'Look, what do you need me for?'

'You're my Muse,' Imran says. 'We really, really need an Authorial Overview, so we know what's going on... and that Philip's plan doesn't go splat.'

Allie sighs. 'All right...'

Her eyes unfocus. 'Okay... Gordon and Igor are chasing Yartek. Ninni's introduced herself to our hostess, feeling very embarrassed and not a little lost, with so many people around... and she's lost her cat, who got frightened by Yartek. Daibhid's lost his bag... and said bag's currently tap-dancing on Imran's keyboard.

'Bokman's followed Zoe to the Second's TARDIS, as Zoe collects some whipped cream, Jim's lost his hat, and Auntie and the Ainley Master have hypnotised Zorak and Phi1ip into strange and kinky escapades with the torture chaise-longue and the silk bondage ropes.

'Our hostess's looking for some batteries for the TSV, as Sixth drags the other Doctors together to reconfigure the TSV into Philip's (not Phi1ip) Authorial Persona Manipulation Field Transference Projector... and the Typo Gremlins seem to've got stuck to you...' Allie grins wickedly.

'Yes, yes...' Imran mutters.

'And there's the Spelling Flame Bringer which got attracted by all those Typo Gremlins...' Allie observes. '...Hmm. Philip believes he needs a technobabbly explanation to enable him to change the Bringer. However... You gave me the ability to do anything - I am your creative impulse, after all, and that's the whole point...'

'Deus Ex Machina, Al...' Imran says. 'No. Not this time. It doesn't fit the story.'

'Hmm... Didn't you say you'd brought a magician's cabinet?' Allie says, almost as an afterthought.

Imran starts to grin. 'Yes... and we should have something in there for this...'

'Found the TSV!' our hostess calls.

'And Sixth's got the Docs together...'

Imran rubs his hands together. 'Now, if I remembered to bring what I hope I remembered in the cabinet, we should have everything we need...'

He grins. 'And a little extra.'

Outside, meanwhile, someone else seemed to be arriving...

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Story by members of rec.arts.drwho / HTML layout by Igenlode Wordsmith, modified by Imran Inayat
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