**TIME AND THE CAMPIONS**
*Episode Four: Take Two at Bedtime*
>"It's simplicity itself," [Trader Grey] chuckled to Carrie, as they
>made their way through the alfresco fancy-dress caperings towards the
>stately pile. "The very weft of local causality will be working in our
>favour. What could possibly go wrong now?"
>His Muse considered this question briefly. "Gross authorial
>incompetence and insufficient understanding of the Whoniverse;
>leading to romantic tragedy, paradoxical horror, and/or the return
>of Nyarlathotep to existence and mastery of local continuity -- all
>of which will be due to our arrant hubris!"
>"Yes, but apart from that?"
>"Oh, apart from that," Carrie agreed, "nothing could go wrong with
>it at all!"
They made their way unchallenged into the house; whereupon the more
practical aspects of gatecrashing a party in a large country house,
to administer sneaky violence to a victim whose location is
uncertain, all the whiles knowing that a murderous maniac is
stalking the premises and is liable to be wearing the same costume
as one's target of choice -- well, all that stuff did begin to come
home to the Pennywise Pairing pretty darned quickly.
"We must use subtlety," the Trader averred.
"We need diversions and misdirection," Carrie expanded.
"Combined with unflagging vigilance."
"Is this why we spent four minutes watching Tegan and two Nyssas
dance the Charleston?"
"Precisely." The Trader licked his lips, which had doubtless been
rendered dry on account of the thermal agitation of air molecules
stirred up by the motions of that reckless dance, or for some other
equally cogent reason. "But it would seem that a yet more
convoluted stratagem is now called for."
Carrie considered. "We could explore the search space by an
"Bless my soul, if it isn't little Miranda!" An inebriated Mikado
swooped hopefully upon Carrie, pointedly ignoring the Trader's
"Henry!" Carrie's face lit up with manifest, if rather
apprehensive, delight. "You haven't seen a tall fair-haired young
man in a harlequin costume lately, have you?" She dropped her
voice. "I need to speak to him in rather a hurry, I'm afraid. It
shouldn't take long."
"Oh, he was popping off upstairs last I saw of him. Listen, old
thing -- "
"Not here, Henry," Carrie returned furtively. "Charlotte *knows*.
I think discretion had better be the watchword for now, don't you?"
And she led Trader Grey off up the handsomely-carpeted staircase,
leaving the Mikado blinking in owlish puzzlement. He wasn't the
"What was *that* about?"
"I have no idea," Carrie assured him. "Something about letting the
punishment fit the crime came into my head for some reason. -- Oh,
dear!" She looked down into the ballroom below. "One of the
Nyssas has wandered off. If it's ours, she might be looking for
the Doctor too. We *have* to catch him first!"
"Or afterwards," the Trader shrugged. "Besides, the one down there
is the real one. Ann Talbot will just be off making lovey-
doveyness with her fiancé, or getting kidnapped by the maniac, or
whatever her programme is for this part of the event. No problem."
"How can you tell, from here?"
"The sullen look on Adric's face, on the sidelines." The Trader's
mouth quirked. "She big-sisters him most blatantly in this
episode. If he were resting his eyes on La Talbot, I'd expect
another expression entirely."
Carrie shook her head indulgently. "And if you spent as much time
with Kati or Lylat or Corey as you have with La Ninfa Nissa,
there'd be a trilogy with your name on it by now!" They reached
the first-floor landing. Ann Talbot, ravishing in full flapper
regalia and plainly extremely well aware of the fact, came tripping
down past them with a gay smile and a tilt of her inexplicably
"There," Carrie observed, "goes the cat who got the cream! Well, I
suppose you're right about the fiance." She frowned suddenly.
"Let's carry on up, too. If she's just come from a nice private
"...there must be good rooms for that, up there," the Trader
finished, plainly liking this thought. "In one of which the Doctor
will be poking around, and a nice little ambush will come. Ha, let
us proceed to our glorious duty, and then get the blazes back to
Amanda and the others!"
With which compelling line of logic, they ascended.
The second and floor of the rambling house had an air of invisible
dust about it, a palpable sensation of half-use, as if dominated by
whole tribes of lumber-rooms. If any of today's guests were
staying up here, the fact was not especially obvious; and the doors
were rather conspicuously locked. Carrie and the Trader, lacking
the plastic knife with the attachment for helping old ladies across
the road and so forth, were compelled to pass these by, consoling
themselves with the reflection that neither of them had ever heard
of the Doctor's using his sonic screwdriver to actually lock
anything after him.
But two rooms around the bend where the corridor passed into the
north wing, and 'bingo!' was the cry. Here a quick trial of the
knob caused the door to yield at once, whereupon the Trader charged
recklessly into the room like Mike Gambit, lest something should be
awaiting them there rather than vice versa. And indeed his
foresight was amply justified, albeit in a way which did not best
repay storming in full-tilt and waving one's ray-gun about
"Ouch," went the Trader (or so he asserts) as he went crashing into
the deep-piled carpet, and his DeLameter followed a separate
ballistic path onto the queen-sized bed. "Holy Klono's beryllium
boluses, but that was a nasty fall and no mistake! What a dratted
nuisance, pardon my Cantab!"
"Nuh!" went the semi-conscious, harlequin-garbed Fifth Doctor over
whom the author had so pratfallfully tripped. Bestirred by this
little unpleasantness, the recumbent Time Lord sat bolt upright,
his eyes wild and unfocussed. He made horrified, impatient
gestures to Carrie, his mouth flapping with initial pointlessness
before his addled but resilient brain made a valiant attempt to get
back into gear.
"Help! We must all act at once!" He twisted her sleeve earnestly.
"Ann Talbot is in resonance with an evil Nyssa from a failed time-
line that fell into the Abyss, inserted with retrospective
causality through the power of the ineffable Black Orchid. Now
she's brewing a paradox for her master that threatens the very
fabric of time and story itself! Can the Doctor and his plucky
companions unmask the villain and save the Universe -- or has he
met his final match in the unspeakable and devious abomination that
is the _Crawling Chaos_???"
"Now that's what I *call* blurb-ling," said Carrie, impressed. "Do
you know how she's going to bring this paradox about?"
"I think she was just going to knock me out and lock me away so
that I can't save the situation! I can't explain the danger in
human tenses, and I don't know the details anyway! We're just
lucky I'm not so easily incapacitated by a simple whack on the
Carrie and the Trader slapped hands. "One Albert Campion," the
latter declared with high satisfaction, re-holstering his
DeLameter, "now plausibly caused -- and the Chaos's contribution
reduced to irrelevance! Nothing else left to stop Time healing
over its intervention completely, don't you think?"
"Definitely," Carrie decided. "Come on, Gray. The sooner I'm away
from here, the less I'll worry about fouling up some other
dependency we don't know about..."
"Let us," the Trader summed up, "get." And get they did, sans
further interference, back to the worlds of soreheadedness that yet
awaited in the later Fifth Doctor's TARDIS.