CLIFTON-JAMES NIGHT AT THIS TIME ROUND
by Paul Andinach
The Dalek shuttle settled in the car park outside This Time Round,
retrorockets scorching the tarmac. After a moment, a ramp folded out
from the side of the shuttle, and a squad of Daleks swept out. Intent
on a quick pint, they barely registered the familiar sight of Polly
standing by the door with a clipboard, and were surprised when she
stepped forward to bar their way.
"WE ARE THE DA-LEKS," they chanted. "WE HAVE BEEN IN MA-NY DOC-TOR WHO STO-RIES, IN-CLU-DING THE DA-LEK MA-STER-PLAN."
Polly didn't move, except to indicate to a squad of Cybermen and
their prisoner that they, too, were barred from entry.
"Special rules this evening," she explained, waving her clipboard.
"Some kind of theme night. Characters to be admitted on an individual
basis, depending on whether they fit the criteria. Daleks and
Cybermen don't have any individuals, so you're not allowed in,
because otherwise we'd have to let in every Dalek and Cyberman that
ever existed, and there's no room."
"No room?" repeated one of the Cybermen.
"That's right," said Polly. "There's just too many of you."
The Daleks and the Cybermen, bionically-assisted brains working with
equally brilliant speed, opened fire on each other simultaneously.
The battle was spectacular, but short, and soon the car park was
littered with dramatically smoking remnants.
The erstwhile prisoner of the Cybermen emerged cautiously from behind
a car, brushing ash from his suit. He glanced around at the remains
of his captors, then smiled winningly at Polly. "Am I to be barred
from entry as well?"
Polly consulted her clipboard. "No, Mr Vaughn, you're allowed in."
She turned to the figure who, brought forth by the sound of the
battle, was standing on the ramp of the Dalek shuttle. "You too, Mr
Mavic Chen, Guardian of the Solar System, nodded graciously, and made
for the door of the pub.
"Buy you a drink?" Tobias Vaughn offered.
Mavic Chen smiled. "If the day ever comes when I must accept the
generosity of one who is merely the richest man on Earth, I shall
indeed be in trouble."
"Why, you supercilious--" Vaughn began, then broke off as they
entered the pub and he spotted a familiar face. "Brigadier
Lethbridge-Stewart! So nice to see you again. Is the Doctor about?"
The Brigadier nodded. "Over there at that corner table with Sergeant
Benton; though why he feels the need to wear that fur coat of his
indoors..." He frowned, then shook his head, dismissing the problem.
"Who's your friend?"
Vaughn shot a look at Mavic Chen, who was already deep in heated
conversation with Bret Vyon. "No friend of mine," he said grumpily.
"*You're* not too good to accept a drink from a poor friendless
multimillionaire, are you?"
"Not at all," said the Brigadier, and the two began wending their way
toward the bar.
When they reached it, Lethbridge-Stewart's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"Bambera," he said in mock reproof, "I'd never have picked you for a
Brigadier Bambera sighed. "I'm on guard duty. None of the usual bar
staff are allowed in -- except Dr Sullivan, and he's been called away
to look after a Lieutenant Andrews -- so they brought in some
outsiders to fill in. Only this one doesn't seem to have grasped the
fundamentals of barkeeping. Lister," she added wearily, addressing
the woman behind the bar, "you're supposed to give the drinks to
Deb Lister grinned unrepentantly, but put down her pint mug long
enough to serve Vaughn and Lethbridge-Stewart with their drinks.
"Not allowed in?" Vaughn looked around. "Ah. This theme night."
Bambera nodded. "One good thing," she said. "Most of the rowdies are
barred, so it's been a quiet night. No Adric *and* no Nyssa, and only
two Doctors - First over there chatting with our other relief
bartender, and Sixth over there having the usual conversation with
"What about Second?" Lethbridge-Stewart asked.
"Hasn't been in all day," Bambera said. "Won't be in tonight, either
-- he's not on the list."
Lethbridge-Stewart turned and frowned at the fur-coated figure in the
far corner with Sergeant Benton. "If that's so, then who...?"
Realisation dawned suddenly.
"Sergeant Benton!" he bellowed. "Come away from that Yeti this