**SWEET AS YOU ARE**
A Sequence of Alternate Actualities, Taking Place in _Some Other Time
Round_, the Darkside Bar Outside Continuity.
*Episode 3: My Baby Just Scares For Me And My Shadowland!*
The advent of the newcomer had succeeded in not only all-too-literally
bowling over Woodenclub and Candie, but in veritably freezing the air
in that generally hot and bothered den of sin and sorrow known as Some
Other Time Round. A deadly silence fell. Even the squabbling,
catfighting, mutual-serial-murdering huddle on the darkened stage showed
vague signs of registering that, somewhere out there, Weirdness was
Happening. As it did, indeed, appear to hap.
She was tall, slim, and austerely elegant, her earth-toned skin set off
unpleasantly by the cyanotic stain of her nails and lipstick. Her long
evening gown was that exact shade of abyssal green in which one suspects
that Time held the young Dylan Thomas dying. Her high, heartbreakingly
true voice -- and, come to think of it, her more attractive aspects as a
whole -- remarkably recalled the young Nina Simone, though stripped of
every whit of the warm fuzziness and ebullient frivolity proverbially
radiated by that great artist.
"Oh, what?" Candie gasped, shuffling backwards before scrambling to her
feet. She was slightly less addled by her fall than was her Author,
having had the fortune to land on a well-cushioned and resilient
silicone surface. "*Cold-Lips???*"
"Wait a minute..." The Stewite began to mumble derangedly under his
"I thought it was about time I dropped by." Every syllable came out
crisp and deathly as fresh-crunched frost. "I understand you haven't
been idle here..."
Suddenly, a shot rang out.
"So perish all Sassenach intruders into our pure motherbar!" bellowed
Turlough from under the table, whence he had sent the toxic irritant
radioactive explosive-tipped bullet winging its unexpected way through
the audacious intruder's breast. It passed straight through her and
nuked a bottle of Benprivet behind the bar. Franz lurched forwards, an
unholy light in his eyes.
Suddenly, a shit ran out.
"I wonder what he wanted," Cold-Lips remarked indifferently. Franz
turned his formidable attention upon her, as the second cause. Candie
and the Stewite began edging prudently away and showing signs of never
having heard of her, far less met her; and in any case, guv'nor, it was
these other three guys, two guys, one guy and his dog, and we were busy
mowing a meadow at the time!
Cold-Lips sang with frigid passion:
"See lime woman
Dressed in light:
Lips can't kiss --
Fists can't fight.
See lime woman
Dressed in death:
Can't draw blood --
Can't draw breath -- "
which was patently not a spellsong, and equally patently had some great
illuminating or just plain confusing effect on the Ogron bartender, who
suddenly remembered a whole rack of WWII medals that urgently needed
polishing. As for everyone else, it just ran ice-water through the
marrow of their bones. And what *was* that sickly lime-mantle
illumination that seemed to play around the corners of Cold-Lips's mouth
as she sang out, anyway?
A lamentable, but real and strenuous, incuriosity on this point reigned
as blatantly as an indoor monsoon over those diehards who had nothing
better to do than continue to hang around SOTR after the show.
"Hey!" Candie and His Proximate Supremacy complained in chorus, as Cold-
Lips nonchalantly bent down and inspected the fallen notebook and
Vicious Reality glasses. "Give!" the Muse amplified loudly.
Cold-Lips snorted, and restored said articles with the air of a
jaundiced auntie returning her incorrigible niblings their pet dung
beetles. "Austen and Decadent Realism? I suppose it is a step up from
the Flaubert and Pulp Pornography combo with which you vented your
spleen last year. Are we pleased with it, proud of it, then?"
"Up yours, sister!"
"_Sister_?" Leela frowned at the Fourth Doctor, where both were lurking
in the shadows of the porch for what were likely no very commendable
purposes. "Surely they cannot be sisters. Their hides are of different
colours, and even their shapes are not alike!"
"Doctor? Is it witchcraft?"
"Leela, it's only a few months since Candie self-incarnated into a huge
pallet of temporally misphased spam. Do you really think people like
that have normal physical genetics?"
"You speak worse gibberish than a Tesh. So they _are_ sisters?" This
worried Leela considerably. It was bad enough having Candie wandering
around infringing on her prerogatives as the Aggressive Scantily Clad
Babe of the territory; but Leela's hunting skills, excellent physical
condition, and innate Sevateem superiority had hitherto balanced nicely
against Candie's combination of industrial-grade dirty fighting, spammy
resistance to pain and poison, and irritating tendency to pull violently
active power-tools out of thin air in mid-combat. They had lately been
mostly avoiding each other. But if the Muse had blood kin coming round,
and elder wizardly blood kin at that by all appearances, then drastic
action was called for to redress the balance of honour and power...!
"Don't be silly, computer programs don't have sisters. It's a figure of
speech meant to imply feminist solidarity and -- "
BEEP! "Doctor Master: ninety-five percent correlation between Candie's
use of sororal address, and demand for immediate sexual relations with
'sister' and/or 'sister's' date..."
"Ninety-four percent correlation between Candie saying anything to
anyone and demanding that, unless she's busy trying to slaughter them;
yes, yes, we know. Why don't you two leave the thinking to me like
good little dumb animals, I'm trying to *eavesdrop* here..."
"_It's a Wonderful Life_ (May Be Edited for Impropriety, Drug Use, and
Blasphemy)???" The Stewite had snatched his restored VR-glasses back
off in a rage, and Cold-Lips was copping his 'look of cockatrices' in
its most concentrated form. This did not seem to bother her overmuch.
"It'll be good for you." The intangible interloper returned her
attention to Candie at once. "You're wanted."
"I know that!"
"Elsewhere. In your role as artistic wellspring, not as all-purpose
literary, chemical, and biological waste disposal unit." Candie punched
her purported sister viciously and uselessly in her illusory stomach.
The Muse's face had gone a blotchy and unprecedented spam-and-white
("And that," said Ellia quietly to her father, in tones of infinite
disdain, "is the *thing* that uses 'DumpstaGrrl' as its IRC handle..."
"Hush and record. There's a paper in this." Ellia allowed the faintest
and mostest unpleasantest hint of a malicious smile to scud across her
perfect countenance, before sinking into a merely empty and ominous
"No, you're not really. Will you come?"
Candie's agitation was such that she even failed to come back on this
sesqui-entendre. "All right."
"Yeah." The Stewite slapped one of his black-enamelled DeLameters
emphatically into a deathly-grey hand. "I've had enough of this hole to
last me for a while. What say, a walk on the anime darkside?"
"I don't say," said Cold-Lips. "And I didn't say you were coming. You
can't. Candie and I will be gone some time."
"Lips," said Candie tightly, "don't move..."
"*...or I'll scramble your unprintable-here-even-in-a-modern-and-
sordid-posting-for-the-space-of-three-long-breaths program for you,
you dextritoboper-diddling toffee-nosed collaboration-wrecker!*" His
Proximate Supremacy gabbled malevolently, his blaster held closely
against the dark lady's finely-sculpted cheekbone. "No-one gets between
the Man of Uranium and his Muse, do you hear? No-one! No-one!"
Cold-Lips blinked. "No-one is asking to. Most especially not me..."
"Hah! You're singing a different song now you're on the wrong end of
the gun, yar, you worthless she-worm? Well, too -- "
"Bray," Candie interrupted him urgently. "Don't shoot, not just now.
Really, really don't. Lips, don't bait him any more. Or me."
"Can he actually hurt me?" Cold-Lips registered actual interest, as
well one might.
"Oh, yes," the Stewite slavered. "Now I know you're a hard-light
construct, it'll only take one atom-powered pulse on my custom
interference setting to blow you back into the i-space oblivion where
you belong. I know how to deal with the likes of 5043 you, you XXX
free -- "
"*Bray!*" Candie yelled, blowing wetly in his ear before sliding in to
grasp him with python tightness, forcing the deadly DeLameter upwards
and further out of line even than her own outrageous PDA. "Screwtape
"Oh, shit, shit, not an illegal pyra--, hawk, gob, nude, pink, Candie,
shit, okay, by the great big Hellhole in Space, CD, that was a near
one." Restored to what passed unconvincingly for sanity in his case,
the Stewite glared at Cold-Lips with the full force of his deadly grey
eyes, from which a disturbing undertone of pink had not yet entirely
faded. "Don't even think about trying to take my Muse away, Cold-Lips.
Play that game and I'll come after you, vivisect you, blow up your home
planet, paradox away your universe, and vilify your posthumous
reputation all over tachy.net. After that -- "
"I rather think she'll go where she pleases. Even back to you, if I
know her. You seem to have something she needs."
"Damn straight!" endorsed Candie, baring her teeth in a distinctly flaky
grin. Certain motions of her hips at this stage might have possibly
been considered the moral equivalent of a witty play on words. "Listen,
me old bawdy hand of the dial, this is a -- a Muse thing, a family
affair. You *can't* go, and I have to, capeesh? I'll bring you back a
case of good Hippocrene, and we'll *write* that Mike Hammer/I Love
Lucy/Buffy/Ormanblum EDA crossover, huh? The world'll die screaming!"
"You can't expect me to exist without a f***ing Muse till then!" It was
all too clear to all concerned that only his having, so to speak, his
arms full at the moment, was standing between the Stewite and one of
those demented homicidal fits that helped make SOTR the dynamic and
exciting entertainment concept venue it so outstandingly was.
Elsewhere, two of the Prose Patrol's finest received the priority-red
subetheric signal generated by the previous sentence. A blood-coloured
beacon sprung into being on the top of their prowl car; scythes sprang
out of the mudguards; a vengeful, capital-punishment-foretelling banshee
howl screamed out from a megaphone. Fore and aft rocket-launchers and
laser-cannons extruded themselves to wreak vengeance upon the evildoer.
"Hey, Pat, let's get those lowlife bastards!"
"Hey, Pete, the signal's on the line to the Pub Perilous again!"
"Hey, Pat, let's go dance on E R Eddison's grave instead!"
"Hey, Pete, let nothing stand in the way of that sacred duty!"
Aphrodite gave Zeus ye olde significant look. There was this lightning
bolt. There was no longer a Prose Patrol car. Hi ho, so it goes, cor
blimey golly gosh and no mistake!
Unaware of his own responsibility for the abovenoted human tragedy, and
thus cruelly unable to gloat over so inflicting it upon his natural
foes, the Grey Stewite was meanwhile being propositioned by someone
other than the usual suspect.
"You shall not be without a *Muse*, at least," Cold-Lips promised him.
"I shall return within the day, and fill in for my elder sister during
her absence. For I am as much a Muse as she."
"Eughhh!" stated the Stewite, looking her up and down in the most
insulting manner possible.
"In her *unmodified* Musely capacities. If you had one kiss of my clay-
cold lips, your days would not be long. Forget that. I can take you
to realms of cold abyss and outer chill, to spirit-springs my sister
would never venture near."
Candie shivered affectedly and squeezed her Author yet tighter. She
wrinkled her nose wickedly and cocked her head. "She can, you know,"
she husked. "This could be a real *naaaaaaaaaaasty* reunion..."
"Just the way I like 'em." The Stewite had regained his sinister,
hammily enigmatic composure. "Then we'll do this thing, since you're so
set on it. Give 'em hell, you hard-assed harridan harlot of the
horrible hordes of Hades!"
"*Dream* of what I'll give 'em, thou pretentious pillicock prince of the
pornographic pirates of perversion!" oozed Candie, extricating herself
from his embrace and sliding her arm through Cold-Lips's. "Hey, Lips,
wanna give those bozos hiding in the shadows a sister-act to remember us
Candie pouted, and kicked aimlessly backwards with one architecturally
impossible spike heel in token of resigned disappointment. "How're we
getting there?" she whispered in the taller woman's ear, contriving to
look as though she was instead dispensing some lewdness. "PLOT hole? I
gotta tell you, sis, that's chancy here -- "
"C'mell. She's outside in the car-park."
"Who the hell is C'mell, and are you crazy leaving her there, *here*?"
"No," said Cold-Lips, aloud. "Come now. Time is."
They left the bar, Ellia's frigidly curious gaze boring unheeded into
And then Cold-Lips sensed what *else* waited outside for them, and
flinched in shock for the first time since she'd manifested here.
"Oh, shit..." said Candie apprehensively, feeling for the reassuring
weight of her bicycle-chain.
 Turlough had never really got the hang of offensive Terran racial
epithets, and therefore indiscriminately employed whichever he had most
recently heard uttered with the most convincing venom.
 _The Temptation of Damned Anthony Anally in Madam Carmen Miranda's
Tutti Fruitti School for Sissy-Boys, Ay-Ay-Ay!_, if you must know.
The Anti-Kristu had done entirely too well in last year's SOTR awards;
and Candie had taken furious if entirely typical exception to being
simultaneously eclipsed in literary, glamorous, and sadistic stakes by
the Hellsinkish Mistress of Master-Fic -- actually going so far at one
stage as to surreptitiously sneak in after dark and rescue PeteDoc from
the sadistic stake on the stage in question, despite the terrible
implicit risk of her action's being misinterpreted in a manner that
might compromise her peculiar honour. But sometimes a gal's just gotta
do what a gal's gotta do!
 It may have become apparent by now that titles are not the
delectable Candie's strong point.
 The savagely exquisite little gem which laboured under this moniker
was eventually awarded fifteen literary prizes; dubbed 'comparable to
Celine at his worst' by Kilgore Trout in a now-classic jacket blurb;
and, perhaps most influentially though with certain substantial changes,
formed the basis of SaXar's straight-to-multidisc opus 'Fruity Fellas
#172 - Sex in Stupid Hats!!!'. But that was two thousand years later,
and the ungrateful git in the cricket whites never even bothered to
bring Candie a copy back when he visited that era. Hi ho. So it goes.
Give us an award, then!
 Insert Gary Russell joke here.