Armies poured out of the west, driving all before them. Across the
Ukrainian plains and into the steppes they roared in a relentless tide,
swarming over those who sought to bar their way. An extemporized
defensive line in the Urals crumbled under their assault and the
hordes swept into the flatlands beyond. In province after province,
the air rang with the invaders' victory cries.
It was on the barren fields of Mongolia that the once-mighty empire
made its final stand. Every available man was put into the line, a
mighty hedgehog defense by armies carefully husbanded against
this very day. And though they fought valiantly, though they felled
half again their own number of the enemy and hurled back two
assaults, in the end it was in vain. One by one, the last of the
Empress's defenders went down under the pitiless conquerors. And
when the last man had fallen, the Empress was brought before the
victor, that her humiliation might bring cruel pleasure to the victors'
"Yes! I win again! All _right_!" Doug clapped his hands and pumped
his fists in the air as Diane plucked the last of her defeated armies off
the Risk board.
"Yeah, yeah," grumbled the blonde. "You always win at Risk. No need
to spike the ball."
"Of course I win," Doug beamed. "I _am_ your superior officer, after
all. If anything, you should take confidence in my superior strategic
Diane was used to losing to Doug at Risk, his favorite game, but for
some reason his inevitable post-game smugness was harder than
normal to bear. She'd been pretty wound-up of late and the taunting
wasn't helping things. She needed a little private Diane-time; that
would do the trick...
She glanced at the clock. "It's almost suppertime, isn't it?"
"Looks like it."
"Good." She stood up and stretched, shaking out her long blonde
tresses. "So, whose turn is it to cook tonight?"
Doug flipped open his personal organizer and paged through it.
"This is Tuesday, so it's... yours."
"Mine? Crud." The _last_ thing she felt like doing right then was
working over a hot stove, but at least she'd get a little peace and
"What's cookin' Blondie?"
Diane didn't bother looking up from the pot as Number One wandered
over to look over her shoulder.
"I'm making potato salad," she replied, dumping in a bit of paprika. "It
should be ready in thirty minutes or so."
"Tater salad?" The redhead's nose wrinkled as she took a closer look
at what Diane was stirring. "That don't look like the tater salad _I'm_
used to, nor smell like it, either."
Diane's teeth went together with a snap, but she forced her voice to
stay level. "It's my own recipe. It's good. You'll like it."
Number One frowned, her lips pursing out. "Yankee tater salad? I
dunno... It don't even look like proper tater salad ought to. Shouldn't
there be pickles in there?"
Di's knuckles went white on the mixing spoon. "Not in my recipe, no."
"No pickles, and the color's wrong, too." Number One leaned closer
over the pot. After a moment of intense study, she declared, "I don't
think you know _how_ to make tater salad, Blondie."
Diane silently counted to ten, then twenty, then decided, 'to Hell with
it'. Turning to face the smaller girl, she calmly stated, "All right then,
food critic, make it your damn self." With that, she tossed aside the
spoon, grabbed the bowl with both hands, and dumped it over Number
One's head before stomping out the door.
The redhead stood there for a long moment, wide-eyed, potato salad
dripping down her face. She very carefully brought up a finger and
swiped some of it off her cheek, then stuck it in her mouth, chewing
"Hey, this stuff's actually pretty good..."
When the troubles of the world -- or the Satellite -- assail a person,
nothing beats a long, hot shower for washing those cares away.
Diane leaned against the wall, letting the steamy water pound on her
neck and shoulders. She could feel the tension-knots starting to untie
in her muscles and the mindless roar of the water cut off all other
sounds, creating a pleasant feeling of isolation, like a sensory
deprivation chamber of a soothing and pleasant sort. Yes, this was
the life for a poor stressed-out girl; nothing but steam and hot water
and nice tingly soap and two enormous breasts pressing against her
Diane turned with a yelp, nearly falling as she backed herself against
the wall, right arm and left hand hiding what she could. "What the
Hell are you doing in here?!" she screamed.
Mistress Helen stuck out her lips in a pout as she stepped forward
to get under the spray of water and, incidentally, nearer to Diane. She
_didn't_ bother trying to cover anything, not that her hands would
have done much good at that, considering how much she had up top.
"I'm taking a shower, darling," she purred back. "What does it look
"What the Hell are you doing in the shower with _me_?!" Diane
"Saving water," Helen smirked. "And besides, you seemed to be all
tense earlier, so I thought I'd give you a little backrub to help you
relax. Then, maybe a little front-rub to help relax us both." She took
a step forward.
Two seconds later, she was alone in the shower, on her butt, rubbing
at a knot on her head, and eyeing the broken scrub-brush beside her
as she listened to Diane storm out of the bathroom and slam the door.
"That girl," Helen said to no one in particular, "really needs to chill out
When all else failed, a girl could always find relaxation just sitting back
and looking at the stars. Or at least, she could when the observation
deck on top of the Satellite wasn't taken up by a deranged Trakenite
and a huge array of pulleys, belts, gears, and electronics.
"Oafish humans keep out," Nyssa snapped as Diane stepped
gingerly into the room. "There's science in the making and I don't
need barbarian Earthers stomping all over it."
Diane looked around with sinking heart; the main part of Nyssa's big
Rube Goldberg-esque device was right in front of the observation
port. She sighed, shook her head, and gave the array of machinery
another, more dubious look.
"What are you building, anyway?"
"It's a perpetual-motion machine," Nyssa muttered distractedly as she
hammered a gear into place. "I started working on it and, ironically
enough, I can't seem to stop."
"Well why aren't you building it in your lab? Some of us might want to
use the observation deck for _observing_."
"Then some of us are out of luck," the petite scientist snarled back.
"This deck has the lowest gravity on the Satellite and low-G is intrinsic
to my design." She scowled and resumed hammering on the gear.
"I thought perpetual-motion machines were impossible, anyway."
"Who's the scientist here?" Nyssa's voice drifted out of the depths of
the machine. "Which of us is from the hyper-advanced star-spanning
civilization and which represents the society that made Madonna rich?"
A dainty hand rose over the pulleys and waved toward the door. "Now
run along and build yourself a mud hut or something, cavewoman.
Thinking People are busy."
Nyssa never looked up, so she didn't realize that Diane was already
gone when she added, "And by the way, don't try using the Artificial
Reality Machine. I've had to rob some parts off it for my new machine,
here, and it's probably not safe to use..."
Ooh, the nerve of some people!
Diane stomped into the Artificial Reality Machine chamber, fairly
bursting with anger. There was just no place to go where she could
let go of it all, apparently. Everything seemed to be conspiring to
just piss her off worse and everyone around her seemed to want
nothing more than to press her buttons until she exploded.
Well, fine. If she couldn't escape in reality, she'd just have to escape
into Artificial Reality. She'd been trying to cut back on the amount of
time she spent in AR lately, since it didn't seem too healthy to get
hooked on that sort of thing, but she'd been driven beyond endurance
today and AR looked to be the only way she'd get any downtime.
She grabbed a disk off the stack without looking. She couldn't care
less what she was getting into, as long as it was away from _here_.
Disk installed and circlet on her head, she was just hitting the 'On'
switch when Doug opened the door to ask her something.
"Hey, Di, do you--"
She flipped the switch. There was a blinding flash and when it
faded, Diane was nowhere to be seen.
"--want to-- Holy crap!"
The foursome was quiet as Nyssa ran a series of diagnostics on the
AR machine to find out what had happened. Helen and Doug both
watched with increasing concern, while Number One just looked
"Aha!" Nyssa exclaimed at last. "I see what's happened."
"Well?" Doug and Helen demanded.
"I removed some components earlier to use on my perpetual-motion
machine. Some of those components were from the limiting circuits
that restrict the levels at which our reality and the machine's reality
can interact. Well, when Diane powered up the machine without the
limiters in place, it didn't just create a reality for her perceptions, it
actually physically removed her _into_ that reality."
"If I understand you," Number One spoke up, "what you're saying
is that Diane is actually _inside_ whatever world she was trying to call
"What world is that?" Helen demanded. "I _hope_ it's not 'Legend of
They all went a little green as Nyssa checked the disk drive. "Nope.
Looks like she's in 'Love Hina'."
"Well, get her out!" cried Doug.
"I'm working on it now," Nyssa said as she typed away on the
keyboard. "I'm setting up an extraction program to run right now. It
will reverse the process and draw from the AR world back into ours."
She nodded to herself and hit the 'enter' key. "The only thing is..."
There was another blinding flash.
"...that it's hard to get a fix..."
A girl now stood in the center of the room. A girl who was not Diane
in any way, shape or form. She was a little taller than the ADFer had
been, with dark hair pulled into a long plait and a pale but very pretty
and mild-mannered face. A watermelon in a stringbag dangled from
"...on the exact thing you want extracted."
"Hello," said the newcomer politely. "Is this Tokyo University?"
TO DIE FOR: MYSTERY PSYCHO THEATER 3000
[cue theme song]
o/~ In the not-too-distant future
Not too far from This Time Round
There was a girl named Nyssa whose
Sanity was not-quite-sound
She and some others used to fuss and fight
And destroy the pub almost every night
So the staff and patrons of that place
Used Borusa's Time-Scoop to stick them up in spaaaaace...
"You'll regret this!"
"We'll send them crappy fiction
The worst we can find. (la-la-laaa)
They'll have to sit and read them all
To drive the violence from their minds." (la-la-laaa)
Now keep in mind only Adric controls
When the session begins or is through
As he tries to force some sense into
This completely unhinged crew.
PSYCHO ROLL CALL!
NYSSA! ("Revenge will be sweet.")
DOUG! ("I could be happier.")
HELEN! ("Want to play with me?")
NUMBER ONE! ("Life's a bitch and I am, too, now.")
GUEST STAAAAAR! ("Do you like my melons?")
If you're wondering how they eat and breathe
And other science facts,
Just repeat to yourself, "It's just a 'fic.
I should really just relax."
'Cause it's Mystery Psycho Theater 3000!
[Interior bridge of the Satellite of Love]
[On the bridge, all the chairs have been drawn up to face the couch.
MISTRESS HELEN (an auburn-haired woman of Amazonian build,
wearing a tight, black, floor-length dress) is sitting in the chair
nearest the console, with NYSSA (a petite girl with curly brown
hair tied loosely back, wearing a white lab coat over short denim
overalls) in the chair beside her, hunched over and fiddling with
some tiny electronic device. On one end of the couch sits NUMBER
ONE (a short, redheaded woman, wearing cutoff shorts and a
sleeveless 'Nuke the Whales' t-shirt), while DOUG (a tall, ponytailed
man in combat fatigues) stands leaning on the couch back behind
her. All eyes are on MUTSUMI (a nicely-built but frail-looking girl
of about 20, with dark plaited hair and a constant gentle smile, clad in
a sundress and slouch boots), sitting on the couch's far end. HELEN
looks up and faces the camera.]
HELEN: Oh, hello darlings. [waves] Welcome to the Satellite of Love,
where we are making the acquaintance of our rather... peculiar... guest.
(low voice) Frankly, she creeps the Hell out of me. Nobody who looks
that happy and serene all the time can be sane.
DOUG: Oh, we're on, aren't we? (to MUTSUMI) You should probably
introduce yourself to the viewers at home.
MUTSUMI: (confused) Introduce?
DOUG: You know, tell them about yourself so they'll know what kind
of person you are.
MUTSUMI: Ah! I see. [waves] Hi! I'm Mutsumi Otohime, from
Okinawa. I'm 21 years old and have just started to attend Tokyo
University after failing the entrance exam three times straight. I like
watermelons, hot springs resorts, and kotatsu tables*. I speak three
languages -- or five if you count all the dialects of Turtlese. [rummages
in pockets] I have a card with my measurements on it here somewhere,
since people are always asking about them... My turn-ons are--
[* ed. note: A kotatsu is a low table with a space heater built into its
bottom side and a quilted skirt around the sides to keep the heat under
DOUG: (interrupting) I think that will cover it, Mutsumi.
NUMBER ONE: (annoyed) And it was just getting to the useful part,
HELEN: Anyway, it seems Mutsumi will be our guest while Diane--
[stops and sniffles] --while my poor sweet Diane is missing somewhere
in Mutsumi's world. I miss her already! [lowers face and bangs fist
repeatedly on console]
NUMBER ONE: [sighs] Since Helen's got issues, I'll take over. We've
been filling Mutsumi in on what it is we do here and why. [looks
dubiously at MUTSUMI] Frankly, I'm not sure how much of it is
getting through to her. But, hey, at least she's a hottie.
MUTSUMI: I must admit, it all sounds _very_ interesting and I'll do
my best to help out.
DOUG: [grins] That's the spirit. [raises fist] Go team!
MUTSUMI: [raises fist] Go team!
[MUTSUMI freezes in that pose, then slowly falls over, being caught
by NUMBER ONE.]
MUTSUMI: (weakly) Did I mention that I'm kind of anemic?
MUTSUMI: (weakly) Oh, well, I'm kind of anemic.
[MUTSUMI recovers and sits upright again just as a light on the
console begins to flash.]
NYSSA: [not looking up] Strong Bad, the Cheat, and Coach Z are
calling. You want to get that, Helen?
HELEN: Uh, what? Okay, sure. [presses light]
[Interior back room at This Time Round]
[The room looks like a cross between a pub's storage room -- full of
crates and boxes of supplies -- and a high-tech TV broadcast station,
because that's exactly what it is. Behind the control console stands
ADRIC (a black-haired teenager in an expensive tailored suit) and
HARRY (a handsome middle-aged man with curly hair, clad in barman's
garb). HARRY is smiling placidly, while ADRIC looks unbearably
ADRIC: How's it going, Captain Gloval and the Bridge Bunnies? Can
you guess why I'm so happy today?
NYSSA: You got a delivery from the Sheep-of-the-Month Club? (to
OTHERS) And if we're supposed to be the SDF-1 Bridge Bunnies, I'm
HELEN: I call Claudia.
NUMBER ONE: Crap. Who does that leave me as...? Vanessa?
MUTSUMI: And I'll be a Veritech Valkyrie!
OTHERS: [stare at MUTSUMI]
ADRIC: I'll tell you why I'm happy. I finally put one over on Ms.
Tegan Jovanka and her little revolutionary video pirate band, the
so-called Tegan World Order. [chuckles evilly] It seems they
received a letter which they _thought_ was from the head of the
International Communist Party, informing them of a big 'We Love
Dictators' rally planned for today and requesting their attendance as
members of the 'unbiased media'. However, the letter was, in fact,
from me and the address I gave them was not that of a rally site at all,
but is actually in the middle of the US weapons testing ground at Eglin
Air Force Base. Nor is there a rally scheduled for today, but there _is_
a scheduled test of the new 40,000-pound bomb known as the YBAT.
I'll now ask our resident military expert, Lt. Harry Sullivan, to explain
what the YBAT is and how it works. Harry?
HARRY: It's an explosive device that weighs 40,000 pounds. If you
drop it on something, that something will cease to exist in any practical
ADRIC: [blinks] Er... yeah. And what does 'YBAT' stand for?
HARRY: That is a military acronym describing the functioning of the
explosive device, in this case standing for 'You Bastards Are Toast'.
ADRIC: And there you have it. Am I a genius, or a super-genius?
DOUG: Do you really think Tegan would be stupid enough to fall for
ADRIC: Why don't we see for ourselves? [flips a switch on the
[Eglin Air Force Base, exterior]
[The scene is of a gigantic, rubble-strewn pit pocked with craters. In
the middle of the pit stand TEGAN (a short-haired brunette woman in
a black trenchcoat) and NEGA-ONE (a short, dark man wearing bell-
bottoms and a tie-dyed shirt). TEGAN is holding a sign reading 'I
<heart> Evil Despots', while NEGA-ONE is holding one that reads
'No Blood for Survival' and a video camera.]
NEGA-ONE: (to TEGAN) Where is everybody?
TEGAN: (to NEGA-ONE) The masses will be here, comrade. The Big
Commie Poo-Bah would not lead us astray!
ADRIC: Does that answer your question, Douggie?
DOUG: Remind me never to bet with you.
ADRIC: [peers at screen] Hey, wait a minute! Have you got someone
new up there? You have! I didn't authorize any cast changes!
DOUG: Uh, yeah. Sorry. You see, Di's kind of gone missing and we
kind of accidentally sucked Miss Otohime here into the Satellite while
we were trying to bring her back...
MUTSUMI: [waves] Hi! I'm Mutsumi! I must say, you seem like a
clever little boy, Mr. Adric.
ADRIC: (brusquely) Yes, yes, fine. But I have certain priorities to
think about before we bring in a new cast member. Demographics.
Market segmentation. Scientific algorithms to calculate the humor
value quotient based on the candidate's experience and educational--
NYSSA: [not looking up from her work] She's pretty, she's weird, and
she has large breasts.
ADRIC: Ah. She'll be perfect, then. Diane wasn't that funny anyway.
Let's do some viewer mail.
[FRANCOIS the Ogron (a huge, brutish humanoid) staggers in from
the left, about to collapse under the weight of two enormous mailbags.]
FRANCOIS: Here is most of mail, boss-boy. Have one more biig crate
outside. Tag say is from Sheep-of-Month Club--
ADRIC: [reddens] Just leave that one for later, heh heh...
[FRANCOIS drops of the two bags and exits to the left.]
ADRIC: Let's see what the viewers have to say. [pulls out a postcard
and reads] This is from Fred in San Jose and asks, 'Why in the Hell is
there such a delay between episodes these days?' [throws postcard
away] Aheh heh... That's a good question, Fred, but we'll get back to
it later... [pulls out a letter, opens it, and reads] Zog in Brisbane
writes to tell us, 'When is a new episode coming out? I'm sick of
waiting.' [throws letter away and grabs another postcard] Moving
right along, [reads postcard] Dorothy in Kansas wants to know,
'What's the holdup on new episodes?' Aheh... Excuse me, would
[ADRIC roots in both mailbags, pulling out cards and letters, reading
them silently, then throwing them aside. He does this to a dozen or so,
then faces the screen again.]
ADRIC: Ahem. Since it appears that we don't have any serious
inquiries today, we'll move straight to the pain. Today's selection
comes to us from the depths of mid-90s alt.drwho.creative and focuses
on one of the most under-utilized characters in the Who canon, and
I think this story will confirm why that's so. It's an old classic by Mr.
Robert B. Marks and it's called 'Redemption', though I think it will be
the opposite of that for you.
Send them the fanfic, Harry!
HARRY: Aye-aye, sir! [presses a large and conspicuous button on
[Various alarms, lights, and sirens go off as chaos ensues.]
DOUG, NUMBER ONE, HELEN, and NYSSA: Aaaah! We've got fanfic
[MUTSUMI remains seated, calmly watching the OTHERS until DOUG
whispers something in her ear.]
MUTSUMI: Oh, okay. We've got fanfic sign! [gets up and joins the
[ALL run off.]
Notes - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five - Part Six - Part Seven