This is the first bit of my first TDTO story. I'm not sure how many parts
it'll come out to, but you'll know when I'm done. Characters from DW canon are
few and far between in this one, so if that's your bag, you might as well bail
now. Just thought I'd warn y'all up front.
THEN DO THAT OVER: SHE TALKS TO RAINBOWS
'She's a little lost girl in her own little world
She looks so helpless
She looks so sad
Oh yeah. Oh-oh yeah.
She's a little lost girl in her own little world
I'd like to help her
I'd like to try
Oh yeah. Oh-oh yeah.'
"Your transcript is most impressive, I must admit. Top marks in all
your courses, active involvement in extra-curricular programs, a
whole list of awards and commendations for your literary
achievements, and nothing but glowing praise from your
instructors. And a spotless disciplinary record to top it off. You
would, in short, appear to be the perfect student."
The girl pinked a little, casting her eyes down and giving a self-
deprecating shrug that made her wings flutter. "You're too kind,
Mr. Maxil," she said. "I just always try my best, is all."
The Assistant Headmaster harrumphed noncommitally as he
closed the file and leaned back in his chair. He was considered
gruff and unyielding by the students, he knew, and in fact took
pains to cultivate that very image, but just now it was something
of a struggle to keep his sternness about him. The new transferee
standing before him was just too wonderful a student, just too nice
and sweet and friendly a person to feel anything but happiness
around. The suspicious part of his mind -- which is to say, most of
it -- tried to seize on that _too_ perfect bit, but it was hard going in
the face of such a sunny disposition.
"That's an admirable attitude to have," Maxil agreed, looking her
over. She was a smallish girl, slim and possessed of a tranquil, self-
confident beauty that would doubtless break many a heart in a few
years. Her curly brown hair had been tied back in a neat ponytail
and flipped across her right shoulder, so as to leave her wings --
blindingly white and not a feather out of place -- unobstructed on
her back. "An outlook like that will stand you in good stead here,"
he went on, "and yet..."
"Is there a problem, sir?" Her voice became timid, with a quiver
that seemed to indicate that tears might be forthcoming at some
"Possibly, but not with you," he hastily reassured. "That is to say,
there are always problems that arise, even for the best of us.
People and institutions." He turned and gazed out the window,
frowning at the schoolyard below. "This school, I regret to say,
has a problem, and I fear it may become your problem."
"What problem is that, sir?"
A sneer curled along Maxil's lip as he spat the word,
"Delinquents!" His scowl deepened. "This school is infested
with them, I fear, in spite of our best efforts. Oh, we've managed
to keep some of the offenders under control, and others we've
gotten rid of, but the disruptions and... infractions... continue."
He turned back to face her, a warning finger held up. "There are
people to beware of in this school, elements that you don't want to
get caught up with. A good student like you doesn't need to
involve herself with hoodlums, one way or the other. Avoid
trouble, and trouble will avoid you."
"I'll take that advice to heart, Mr. Maxil. Thank you for warning
Now the Assistant Headmaster did allow that smile to go ahead
and form. "Excellent, Miss Nyssaias. I look forward to having you
as a student here. Now, if you have your schedule, you may report
As the girl made her way out, Maxil's habitual gloom returned. He
found himself staring out the window again, frowning at the two
groups of students assembled on opposite sides of the yard. Even
at a distance, the tension between the two was evident, hard looks
and the occasional low-voiced taunt flying back and forth. Maxil
sighed. Just when he thought he'd gotten the Master brothers
under some sort of control, these two gangs of hooligans had to
transfer in and start causing trouble. When they weren't fighting
each other, they were intimidating and -- rumor had it, though he as
yet had no real proof -- extorting money from the other students.
And that was probably just the tip of the iceberg, too. It was almost
as bad as it had been before, when _she_ was here. But, at least
that was one problem he could count as well and truly solved. One
less troublemaker to disrupt the flow of school routine.
He noted a sudden commotion near the front gate, students
pointing and whispering as they gathered to stare at _something_.
Maxil let his gaze follow those fingers and stares...
"No. NO. Absolutely NOT!" His chair skidded across the office
as he leaped up and ran for the staircase.
Babydoll craned her neck to try and see what was going on over
by the gate. "Hey, boss," she asked, "what do you suppose is
going on over there?"
Cain shifted his eye from Kali's gang to the gate, then back.
"Dunno, babe. Don't care much, either. I'm more interested in
how we're gonna get that bunch of punks off our turf."
"Aye," agreed Rahaaz, pounding his green fists together. "This
be a large school, but not so large that _two_ bosses may both
"There's that," Cain agreed, "but Kali's gang's a little too rough
and blatant for my tastes, anyway. You need finesse to run an
operation in a place like this without bringin' the staff down on
your head. That Maxil, now, he's a sharp one, and the more waves
Kali's bunch makes, the more likely he'll be to come down on _all_
"We can take them in a fight," Bella offered. "Easily. Why don't
we just rumble with them and get it over with?"
"'Cause, like I said, the more waves get made, the more likely Maxil
gives us all the boot. And, speak of the Devil..."
Cain's gang all tried to look as casual as possible as the Assistant
Headmaster came storming out the door. But Maxil's eyes were on
something else, on the group of students clustered around the
"Well, well," Cain remarked as he went past. "I wonder what's got
_his_ shorts in a knot..."
"I wonder what's going on over there?" Rhanda wondered.
"That smug git's plotting to jump us and shut us down, that's
what," Kali spat back, glaring at Cain's gang slouched against the
"Not with him," Rhanda corrected. "Over by the gate."
Kali dismissed that with a wave. "Hah! Who cares what these
sheep get up to, as long as they're here for shearing. There's
money to be made off these rich brats, and I don't intend to share
it with that dork, Cain."
Shanka coyly batted her eyes at Kali. "Aw, if you're still ticked
off about him dumping you, you know that _I'm_ here for you."
She ducked as Kali's knuckles whipped just over her head.
"Can it, Shanka," she snarled. "And everybody else cool it, too.
Old Mad Maxil is headed this way."
"Move along! Get to class, all of you! Move it!" Maxil shouldered
his way through the throng of students, which was beginning to
break up even as he approached. Though not from his presence,
which went almost unnoticed as the crowd milled apart and back
like the Red Sea retreating from Moses. In moments, the students
had all dispersed, though not out of good watching distance,
leaving him almost alone in the gateway.
Almost alone, but for one other person.
She was a short girl of about fourteen, clad in the standard girls'
uniform dress of H. G. Wells School. Flame-red hair fell unbound
to well past her waist and shadowed her eyes, while two leathery
black bat-wings jutted from her back, stirring restlessly as she
walked. She stopped with her toes just short of the line across
the gateway that marked the edge of the school grounds.
Maxil stood in front of her, just on the other side of that line, face
"What are _you_ doing back here?" he demanded. "I thought you
were in the Reformatory?"
"I was," she replied simply. "They let me out and sent me back."
She held out a letter to him, which he gingerly took and read over.
"So they _have_ let you out," he grunted when he'd finished, "and
I'm obligated to let you back in this school. Fine. But I'm _not_
obligated to like it, nor to make your stay here an easy one."
"I don't like it any more than you do, Maxil." She strode forward,
the Assistant Headmaster's lip curling in distaste as she crossed
onto the school grounds.
"I don't want you here, Embericles," he hissed. "Make no mistake
about it. The Reformatory is where you belong, and the first
chance you give me to send you back there, I intend to take. Do I
make myself clear?"
She didn't look at him, her eyes instead roving aimlessly among the
student faces watching from afar. "I understand. But Maxil, if you
want me gone so badly, all you have to do is take me by the hand
and escort me off." She held up a hand, waiting.
Maxil stared hard at her as he started to reach for her, then
stopped, his fingertips a few inches from her own. He swallowed,
set his teeth, and reached forward again, but again stopped just
short of touching her. His hand dropped back to his side. "One
chance I'll give you," he said at last, voice shaky. "But only one."
"Want to shake on it, Maxil?" she asked, a hint of teasing in her
He scowled mightily and jabbed a finger at the school building.
"Get to class, Embericles. And remember, one incident is all it
takes, and the police can come take you back. Just give me that
excuse, and out you go."
"Good morning, class. We have a new student joining us today."
Miss Wright gestured at the pretty, white-winged girl beside her.
"This is Nyssaias, who has just transferred in from another school
district. Why don't you tell the class a little about yourself, dear?"
Xeffy noticed the looks on the boys' faces when the girl smiled at
them all. She sent a glance across to her sister Ayna, who
returned it with that same knowing expression. The competition
had just arrived. Big time. She looked the newcomer over as she
spoke, automatically weighing the girl's characteristics against her
"Hello, everyone," the winged girl was saying. "My name is
Nyssaias and I've only just arrived here from my homeland. My
hobbies include writing and playing sports. I don't know anyone
here, but I look forward to making lots of new friends! I hope you'll
all be patient with me until I've learned my way around."
"I'm sure you'll do well here, dear," Miss Wright replied, overriding
a snicker from Rhanda in the back row. "You can take the empty
desk beside Xeffy. Xeffy, please share your book with Nyssaias
until we can get her her own."
"Yes, Miss Wright."
"Now, if everyone will open their books to Chapter Ten, we'll pick
up where we left off yesterday with the struggle between Persia
and Byzantium..." Miss Wright turned to the chalkboard and
began drawing up lists as she launched into a lecture on Middle-
Nyssaias took the empty desk and scooted it over against Xeffy's,
who placed her textbook in the middle where both could read it.
"Thanks," said Nyssaias, offering her a bright smile.
Well, even if she _was_ competition, she still seemed nice. Xeffy
gave back a smile of her own, whispering, "No problem." She
considered for just a moment, then stuck out her hand. "I'm Xeffy.
Want to be friends?"
"I'd like that..."
By the time lunchtime rolled around, the usual Xeffy-Ayna duo had
become a trio.
"...us winged girls should stick together, after all," Nyssaias was
"I just wish mine were as pretty as yours," Ayna replied as they
took their seats.
"That's nice of you to say, but feathers can be a royal pain to keep
up. And I feel so embarrassed when they shed. Do you know how
many times I've had to say, 'pardon me, I'm molting'?" The three
shared a good-natured laugh. "No, your wings are so much more
"Wish _I_ had wings," Xeffy sighed. "That'd be so cool..."
"But you can run faster than us," Ayna retorted. "Way faster,
without two big old drag-chutes on your back." She gave her
sister a nudge. "Means you can catch more boys. And outrun
the geeky ones."
"You won't drop feathers into people's soup, either," Nyssaias
Xeffy sighed again before perking back up. "I guess so. Besides,
Dad says I'm awkward enough with four limbs. Who knows how
much damage I could do with _six_?"
The banter went on as the three girls dug into their lunches with
the speed and power that only teenaged girls at a dinner table can
achieve, especially while carrying on a conversation. Food flew,
faces were made, giggles sounded, and squeals were emitted in
the usual proportions for such a gathering.
Nyssaias was just about to pop the last fish stick into her mouth
when something -- or rather, some_one_ -- caught her eye. "Hey,"
she said, tapping Ayna's shoulder and pointing. "It's another
member of the Winged Brigade. Who is she?"
Ayna looked, then spat out a mouthful of baked potato as a
coughing fit seized her. "You don't _know_?!" she demanded,
then bapped herself on the forehead. "Duh. Of course you don't.
You just got here."
Xeffy elbowed her in the side. "Keep your voice down, Ayna!"
she hissed. "Do you want her to _hear_ you?"
The girl Nyssaias had pointed toward was sitting alone at the very
back of the lunchroom. Her entire table was empty, as were the two
closest to it, and the students who sat anywhere nearby kept
casting spooked, edgy looks her way. But Nyssaias could see no
reason for any of this behavior; the girl simply ate her lunch in
silence, looking at no one and speaking to no one. Why would
people shun someone so completely? The girl wasn't ugly -- far
from it. Perhaps it had something to do with the dark, bat-like
wings folded against her back? But everyone seemed to take
things like that in stride around here. Ayna was evidently quite
popular, and no one had said anything but good about her own
"So who is she?" Nyssaias repeated. "And why does everyone
treat her so oddly?"
"'Oddly', she says," Xeffy muttered. "That's Embericles, the
meanest, scariest girl in this school. Even the teachers are afraid
of her. She just got sent back here from the Reformatory."
"Really?" Nyssaias kept watching the girl, who continued to
peacefully eat her lunch. "She doesn't look mean or scary. She's
pretty, actually. And she doesn't seem to be bothering anyone."
The two sisters shared an incredulous look. "She doesn't _bother_
people," Xeffy explained with a certain degree of relish. "She just
tries to kill them."
Now it was Nyssaias's turn to look disbelieving. "No way," she
breathed. "You're joking, right?"
Ayna's voice was graveyard-grim. "She threw two upperclassmen
out of a third-floor window. Actually, she threw them _through_ it,
since it was closed at the time."
"And that's not all of it," Xeffy chimed in. "In the course of the
fight, six other kids ended up in the hospital, too."
"They say she even hurt one of the cops who came to take her out
afterwards," Ayna finished. "Trust me, Nyss, that girl is bad
Conversation in the lunchroom died away as Embericles stood and
carried her tray back to the lunch window, scores of eyes silently
watching her every move. If she was conscious of the attention,
she gave no sign, calmly putting her tableware away and walking
off toward the classrooms. As soon as she was through the door,
an audible sigh of relief washed through the room.
"Bad medicine," Ayna repeated. "Just walk past her sometime if
you don't believe me. You can feel it just from being around her.
Evil, and nothing but."
As Embericles left the lunchroom behind, a figure detached itself
from the shadows in the corners of the hallway and made a point of
watching her go, a slight, pale girl in upperclassman's dress. She
cast a look at the cowed students in the lunchroom and gave a soft
"Impressive," Bella mumbled, flicking her tongue across her fangs.
"I'll have to make sure the boss knows about this."
In the lunchroom, another set of eyes had been tracking the
redhead's movements with keen interest.
Rhanda tapped her pen against her lip, considering. As things
stood, their gang was still too weak to take on Cain's bunch and
win, especially with all the first-year Servii students Cain kept
around. The addition of someone who even the faculty feared
to their gang could well shift the balance to their favor. It was
worth a shot, at least.
She excused herself from the gaggle of second-year girls she'd
been sitting with -- most of whom were glad to see her go -- and
set off to find Kali.
All through the day, Nyssaias kept noticing _that girl_. Not that
this was especially hard, mind. As soon as Embericles put in an
appearance anywhere, conversations would drop to a muted hush
and there would come a sudden press of students clambering over
each other to get out of her path. It was as though she lived in the
eye of a storm made of human panic. But if she noticed any of this,
if she resented it or relished it or simply accepted it as her due, she
gave no outward sign. She simply moved among the crowds,
always alone, never offering to help or hinder, neither seeking nor
avoiding the eyes of others.
Still, it came as somewhat of a surprise to find that she shared a
class with this mysterious pariah. It was English, her favorite
subject, and she wondered how the class would react to the girl's
presence, and whether a class could even function around her.
As it turned out, the English teacher, Mr. Borusa, had a very simple
method for dealing with the situation. He pretended that there was
no such student as Embericles in his classroom. It started when he
called the roll. Her name was not called with the others, nor did she
offer any words herself. When Mr. Borusa came to her name, he
simply glanced up to see that she was there, made a mark on his
list, and went on to the next. Most of the students picked up on
his lead and did their best to ignore her as well, giving her no
acknowledgment aside from scooting their desks as far away from
hers as they could without being _too_ obvious. Through the
class, the teacher never called upon her or let his gaze linger too
long near her, while for her part she never raised a hand or uttered
even a word.
Nyssaias was the exception to this. She kept finding her eyes
drawn back to this strange, abhorred beauty. She kept trying to
remind herself of Mr. Maxil's warnings about trouble and avoiding
it, and to her new friends' whispered cautions, but still her gaze
would inevitably wander over to the girl in the far corner of the
room. What was it about her that drew the eye? It was something
more than just her looks, it had to be. The danger element?
Nyssaias was mature enough and introspective enough to consider
the possibility that it might be something of the 'forbidden fruit'
aspect that fascinated her, but she soon rejected this. She'd been
struck by something about the girl before she'd ever known
anything about her. It had to be something else.
Nyssaias was not the kind of girl who backed down from a
challenge, nor dropped a thread of inquiry before she had an
answer. She nodded firmly to herself. She'd just have to make it
her task to find out the truth and solve the riddle of this Embericles,
the whats and whys that made her who she was. That was the only
way to solve the far more important, nagging question...
Why did she care?
(to be continued)
'Doctor Who' is property of the BBC.
'Then Do That Over' concept created by Paul Gadzikowski.
Xeffy and Ayna created by Imran Inayat.
'Desert of Fear' characters created by Clive May, Ken Young, BKWillis,
and Brad Filippone.
Story title and opening quote are from the song 'She Talks to Rainbows',
by the Ramones.
Other original characters created by BKWillis.
(And in case any anime fans are wondering, the gateway scene is an _homage_ to
'Sukeban Deka', _not_ a shameless ripoff of same. That's my story, anyway, and
I'm sticking to it.)