PPC Department of Floaters, SOD

Interlude #0 - Regeneration

Sometime before the Last Great Time War

‘Not fast enough!’ he thought. The tall, grey haired man vaulted over part of his TARDIS console, making the jump perfectly despite his advanced age. He checked the scanner, it showed that the unknown entity pursuing him was getting closer with every passing second.

“Could try materialising momentarily?” he wondered aloud. “Then head back. Might confuse it?”

He reached for the materialisation control, but before he could touch it, the entire control room shook violently, knocking him to the floor. Sparks and flame shot from the console, as the TARDIS was ejected from the time vortex and was sent hurtling into the space between spaces. Its occupant managed to stand up, bracing himself on the heavily damaged console, and glance at the screen.

“What?” he shouted to the TARDIS. “If you're not going to give me readings that make sense you may as well not work!”

At that moment the console exploded, throwing the man back against the wall of the control room. As he slowly slipped into unconsciousness he could hear the distinctive sound of the TARDIS materialising. 'Well, at least I'm somewhere,' he thought to himself.

Early 2010 HST

'Where am I?'. That was his first thought on waking. Not 'Am I dead?' or 'What the hell just happened?', simply 'Where am I?'. He stood up and looked around at the TARDIS control room. Large sections of the wall had been damaged, and it was a wonder the console even worked at all. He headed over to the doors and pulled them wide open. What he saw did not fill him with joy.

A grey corridor, featureless apart from doors placed at regular intervals. He stepped out and began walking. A young woman rounded the corner at the end of the corridor. Her white hair and cybernetic implants made her quite a striking sight. Following close behind her was a mousy-haired, olive-skinned young man in a lab coat.

“Who are you? This area is supposed to be dimensionally sealed,” the young man asked, while wary of the white-haired woman, who had begun tapping at a panel seemingly embedded in her arm.

“I'm the Fisherman, could you tell me...” the newcomer began, but before he had a chance to finish his reply, the white-haired woman pointed her left fist straight at him. Her hand dropped on some sort of hinge at the wrist, revealing a small metal tube. There were several ear-splitting bangs, and the Time Lord collapsed to his knees, three clean bullet wounds in his chest.

“No!” the scientist shouted, running forwards to tend to the strange man who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. However, he backed away as the casualty began to glow. The fallen man's face and arms became bathed in yellow light as he struggled to his feet. The light intensified and energy streams danced out from his body as his face and hair began to change.

Within a few seconds, the light faded, revealing a much younger man with red hair. His eyes darted around, fixating on the scientist, who seemed to be struggling to grasp what had just happened. “Where was I?” the redhead said beaming. “Ah, yes. I'm the Fisherman. And that was my first regeneration! Feels good you know!” He collapsed to the ground.

****

“He's coming around.” The Fisherman heard a voice, muffled and indistinct. As he slowly regained his mental acuity, he realised it was the same voice as before. The scientist. “Hello? Can you hear me?”

“Y... yes,” the Fisherman replied.

“Good. You're safe. You're in Medical. The Doctor says that you'll be stable in a few hours, apparently your regeneration cycle went a bit crazy for some reason. I'm Agent Chase by the way, Testing and Applications Division of DoSAT. Sorry about the, er... incident, although that area was dimensionally secluded, no-one should have been able to get in there.”

“Wait, did you say 'the Doctor'?” the Fisherman asked as his mind began to clear.

“Yep, Doctor Fitzgerald. He'll be along in a minute.” The Time Lord relaxed slightly at Chase's words.

“So, where exactly am I?”

“You're inside the headquarters of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. We basically hold everything together,” Chase explained.

And we have an offer for you. Another voice filled the small ward, seeming to come from all sides. As the Fisherman looked over to the door he saw a large, roughly human sized daisy. Somehow, it was wearing a suit and a bowler hat.

“What.”

Late 2010 HST

“Do you really think this is a good idea, sir?” Agent Chase asked. “I mean, given what happened, it's unlikely to make for a... harmonious partnership.”

No. But it will be an effective one. We've needed more SOD agents for a while, these two will do nicely, replied the Marquis de Sod. Come in, he said, in a louder voice that seemingly permeated the walls of his office. The door opened and the Fisherman walked in, smiling broadly. He now wore a grey shirt and black trousers with trainers, and a pair of half-moon spectacles.

“Now then,” Chase began rambling as soon as the Fisherman entered. “Your TARDIS upgrades are done, I've fitted the Response Console and the covariant phase coil that will allow you to materialise in different continua. It should all have integrated properly, but there are always these little bugs. Just let me know if something goes wrong. I've put all the portable stuff in there too, so you're all set to go...”

The Marquis cleared his throat, if that was possible for a sentient Flower. Time for that later, Agent Chase. For now, please bring Agent Evie here. He turned to the Fisherman. She is to be your partner. Chase used his Remote Activator to open a portal. Through it stepped the same white-haired young woman that was responsible for the Fisherman's regeneration, dressed in a casual top and jeans. While most of her cybernetic implants were now gone, her boots appeared to have electronic components embedded into them, as did the gloves she was wearing.

“Are you mad?” the Fisherman said, backing away. “She shot me! Three times!”

I know. We're... sorry about that. But I have been assured that Agent Chase here has worked out all of her bugs.

“Bugs?” replied the Time Lord.

“You know,” Evie said dryly, with just a hint of artificial synthesis. “It's generally considered rude to talk about people in third person when they're right next to you.”

“Sorry,” the Fisherman said. “But you did shoot me.”

“I know. This one,” she motioned to Chase, “evidently hadn't deactivated all of my original programming. I was an anthropomorphic version of GLaDOS in a particularly dreadful Portal fic. I had a choice: recruitment or execution. What would you do? Seeing as we're going to be working together, I feel I should know a little about you. Anything interesting?”

“Well,” the Time Lord began. “Er, I kinda crash-landed here, and signed up for want of a better thing to do...”

He's a Time Lord. The Marquis cut in. A look of approval flashed across Evie's face before she managed to hide it. He cannot return to his home continuum due to various complex temporal events. If he did we would risk contaminating the canon.

“And that would be bad,” the Fisherman added. “See, I can remember my basic training! By the way Evie, where'd you get your name from. Doesn't exactly embody 'humanoid post-pscyhotic computer'.”

“My suggestion,” Chase answered. “E.V.I.E. Encapsulated Virtual Intelligence Entity.”

“I don't like it,” Evie shot back. “But it's all people will call me now.”

“Still, better than 'Gladys' I suppose,” the Fisherman said. Evie glared at him.

Enough. The Marquis' voice cut through the conversation. Agent Fisherman and Agent Evie. You are hereby assigned to the Department of Floaters, Special Operations Division. Fisherman, your TARDIS will function as a Response Center, designated PPC TARDIS #682. Get going.

Agent Chase helpfully opened a portal, and the two new agents stepped through.

“Should we have told him?” Chase said after they had left. “The real reason why he can't go back.”

No. It would ultimately be better for his sanity if he didn't know.

“Sir, with all due respect, nobody within these walls is entirely sane.”

Exactly, which is why the sanity people have left is a very precious thing.

Chase thought of saying something along the lines of 'well how about not partnering an unstable AI with the man she shot', but thought it would be better for his sanity if he kept quiet.

The portal through which the two new agents had stepped led them to the canteen, where the Fisherman had parked his TARDIS before reporting to the Marquis. He looked around at the various chairs and tables.

“Lost something?” Evie asked.

“Er, yes. My TARDIS,” the Fisherman replied. “Chameleon circuits are wonderful things, except when you forget where you parked the blasted... aha!.” He darted over to a cabinet in the far corner of the room that looked somewhat out of place and opened the door. “Here we are!” He held the door open for Evie.

Inside, a secondary grey panel had been wired to the central console. It contained a video screen and several hand-labelled buttons. The central console, which before had glowed a pale blue, now had a deep violet hue. Placed on the floor in front of the new panel was a black rucksack.

“What have they done to it?” the Fisherman shouted as he ran over to the strange panel and checked behind it. “When they said they'd upgraded the TARDIS I assumed they meant that they'd augmented the in-built stuff, not just slapped an extra bit on the side!”

“You mean you expected them to do something logical?” Evie said as she began to rifle through the bag.

“Yes, that would have been nice!”

“From what I've seen, nothing is logical in this place. Didn't they tell you that during your training?”

“Well, I'd figured that things are a bit... different here, yeah.”

“The organisation we now belong to is run by sentient plants, is headquartered in a dimensionally inconsistent pocket of space, and ostensibly maintains all fictional reality. I think you can leave any semblance of logic in the bucket by the door.”