THIS TIME ROUND: BOARD GAMES
"Oi. Professor. It's about that time, innit?"
"Let's see..." The Doctor pulled a turnip-shaped brass watch from
his waistcoat. "It should be just... about... now."
Everyone within earshot turned to the front door a half-second be-
fore it was slammed violently open, then ducked as a whirring sil-
ver blur slashed through the air at just above scalp-level. The ob-
ject looped once around the room, then returned to the doorway to
be deftly caught by its wielder.
"Nyssa, Warrior Princess?" asked Ace.
"You got it in one," replied the grinning Trakenite. She put away
the steel chakram and swaggered into the room, weapons clattering
and considerable bare leg showing.
Across the room, Tegan glared at her date, very much annoyed.
"Hey Turlough, you're drooling," she said to the open-mouthed
Trion as his eyes tracked the movement of Nyssa's behind. "But
I'll fix that." A napkin stuffed halfway down the redhead's throat
soon had that problem solved, as well as providing Tegan with
some entertainment, a commodity that had been sadly lacking all
Nyssa strode to the bar and grabbed a seat between the Sixth Doc-
tor and Leela.
The Sixth Doctor cleared his throat. "Umm... actually, that's Mel's
seat you've got. She's just gone off to the restroom, you see--"
"And that would interest me how?" Nyssa's hand dropped to her
"No reason! No reason at all!" He laughed nervously. "Just think-
ing out loud."
"Thought so. Hey, barman! An 'Adric's Demise' down here!" She
turned to find Leela giving her a looking-over.
The huntress nodded approvingly. "It is good to see you dressed
properly at last, Trakenite. You look like a freeborn warrior in-
stead of a grovelling Tesh."
"Thanks. I wish you'd told me about your tailor sooner. It's _so_
hard to find one who's good with leather, hides, and steel."
Chris Cwej brought their drinks down the bar, Nyssa's 'Adric's De-
mise' and kumiss in a clay mug for Leela. "Here you are," he said.
"On the house for you two cuties." He ignored the two sets of
rolled eyes (he was not looking that high). "So, if you're supposed
to be Xena, where's your Gabrielle?"
Nyssa grimaced. "Uggh. I don't go that way, thank you."
"Guys only, huh?" he asked, puffing out his chest.
"No. I just don't like blondes."
Chris left in a hurry, and she turned back to Leela. "So, where's
"I've not seen him since the last time, when you slew him with a
spatula. Good throw, that was." She swallowed a mouthful of
kumiss and belched ringingly. "Before you entered, I heard those
at the big table discussing him. Perhaps they know where he is."
Nyssa looked over to where a group of people clustered around
Peri and Victoria, who were seated opposite one another at a large
table. Barbara stood at Peri's shoulder with pad and pencil and was
carefully jotting down notes. Intrigued, she wandered over to the
group, sipping at her drink as she went. She approached her Doc-
tor, who stood at the edge of the crowd. "Doctor, have you seen
Adric anywhere? I want to play 'catch the chakram' with him--"
"We're talking to him now, actually," the Doctor replied. He shook
his head ruefully. "You know, I would have bet _anything_ that
this wouldn't work."
"Eh? What are you talking about? And where's Adric?"
"Easier to show you than tell you. Come on." He took her arm and
led her to stand by the table. On it was a wooden board covered
with letters, numbers, and simple phrases. There was a small plas-
tic pointer on it, being moved around gently by Peri's and Victoria's
fingertips. Every so often, the pointer would pause on a letter, and
Barbara would write it down.
"What are they doing, and what does this have to do with Adric?"
Nyssa demanded, her rather limited patience wearing thin.
"I told you, we're talking to him. Apparently, he's stuck on the
Other Side, and this is the only way he can communicate with us."
She eyed him skeptically. "Really? What's he said?"
The Doctor sipped at his Foster's. "It's a bit hard to follow at times,
but apparently something's happened to something called a Mortal-
ity Deferment Card. Whatever happened involved something about
a 'substitute Celestial Extension Agent', but I've no idea what that
means. When we asked, he just said, 'bloody temp workers' and
'damned cowboy'." The Doctor shrugged. "Anyway, the upshot
appears to be that he can't come back until he gets a new Card."
"Did he say when that might be?" Nyssa was idly toying with the
lethal steel hoop of her chakram. It seemed that just _discussing_
Adric brought out her violent tendencies.
"He said something about having to go through some sort of bur-
eaucratic red tape first. From what he says, the Civil Service in the
Netherworld is staffed by people who've committed suicide, and they
aren't very pleasant. He said it was like 'the Department of Motor
Vehicles if it were staffed by French waiters'."
"Hmph. Let me talk to him." She leaned on the table between the
two seated girls and spoke directly into the board. "Hey, Adric!
Are you listening to me?"
The pointer halted its movement and appeared to shudder a little.
("It'd better be Adric moving that thing," thought Nyssa. "If it's
these two bimbos, things are going to get really ugly here.") For
a moment, it seemed the pointer wasn't going to move, then it drift-
ed over to 'YES'.
"Good. Because if you even _think_ about trying to avoid me by
staying dead, I'll--" Nyssa suddenly came up short. What _could_
she do if he stayed in the Netherworld? "I'll, uhh... I'll come over
there and kill your ghost. Or something," she finished lamely.
All eyes turned to the board, to see what response would come from
the Land of the Dead. The pointer began to move, and Barbara
called out each letter it picked out. "'T - H - H - H -'" She shook her
head. "This isn't making any sense. 'H - B - B - P - T.' Now
it's moved to 'Goodbye'." She looked at Nyssa and the Doctor.
"You two know him best. What does that string of letters mean?
Some sort of acronym? Some personal code word?"
Nyssa shrugged, puzzled, while the Doctor shook his head pensive-
ly. "No," he said, "not that I can think of. Hmmm... Something in
Oddly, it was Peri who figured it out. "I know! Perhaps he means
this..." She stuck out her tongue and blew a short Bronx cheer.
Moments later, the Ouija board was burning merrily in the fire-
place and the pointer was pinned to the wall by a stiletto. Thus
settled down, Nyssa turned her thoughts to other things. Namely,
what to do next. Here she'd gone and had this nice outfit made and
all these neat weapons, and the little tosser wasn't even around.
Even if she waited and used the Xena costume when he returned,
that still left her high and dry _tonight_, which was not nice at all.
Or... She began to survey the crowd with a speculative eye. "Per-
haps someone _else_ will play with me..."
She must have spoken a bit too loudly, because there was a sudden
flurry of "So sorry, must dash!" and "Time to go!" as the pub emp-
tied itself in record time.
Nyssa stood blinking at the empty booths and overturned chairs.
Even the staff had gone. "Oh, poo..." Now what?
There was a sound behind her of someone coming out of the rest-
room and a perky voice called out to her. "Hi Nyssa! Cute outfit!
Say, where'd everyone go?"
"Hi Mel!" Nyssa responded brightly. She began to finger the razor
edge of the chakram. "Hey, are you up for a really _tough_ work-
Doctor Who is property of the British Yakuza, better known as the BBC.
This Time Round is the creation of Tyler Dion, which I have neglected to
mention a couple of times.
Xena: Warrior Princess is the property of someone or other that I can't
recall and am too lazy to look up.
Complaints should be addressed to: The Lauderdale County Court House; North
Court Street; Florence, Alabama, USA; 35630