PPC Department of Floaters, SOD

Interlude #1 - You have (not) arrived

[Please come to my RC (#4444) as soon as possible. While I am aware that your partner is unable to perform her Duty at the present time, a situation has developed and I am sending you to clear it up. Bring the TARDIS. – The Bonsai Monkey Puzzle Tree]

The Fisherman re-read the Flower’s message as he absent-mindedly set the TARDIS controls for RC #4444. His mind was busy handling several processes at once: what exactly was the Monkey Puzzle going to give him this time, how long would it be before Evie recovered from her glitter-energy infection, could he have done anything to stop her from getting hurt in the first place, why had the viewscreen just gone blue? Wait, what?

It turned out that the viewscreen hadn’t just gone blue, it was actually displaying a ‘Blue Screen of Death’, a sight most familiar to World One Windows users.

“What? You’re telling me they put Windows on this...” he was interrupted by the TARDIS making a rough landing, causing him to be thrown to the floor. “Well, at least we’re there.” He set the internal diagnostic program running and headed for the door.

He emerged to be met with an almighty stench. It was as if every horrid school dinner in the multiverse had been sampled for its scent and the resulting concoction pumped into the air. It took the Fisherman a while to get somewhat used to the affront to his nostrils and notice exactly where he was. The PPC Cafeteria kitchens. The rows of culinary appliances from various continua seemed to go on forever. Had he not been distracted by the strange pile of grey meat-like matter on a nearby counter, he might have wondered why they didn’t just install an industrial-scale replicator and be done with it.

“Hey, whatta you doin’ in ‘ere?” It was a woman’s voice, and a rather irritated one at that. He turned to the side to see that it belonged to a tall, thin woman currently in the process of pushing a large cart of assorted dishes in the next aisle.

“Oh, hi there!” the Fisherman said in as diplomatic a voice as he could muster.

“Who are you?”

“I’m the Fisherman,” he continued. “Sorry to drop in, my TARDIS has a navigation problem.”

“Ya can say that again!” she laughed.

The grey meat moved in the Fisherman’s peripheral vision. He spun to face it, and it stopped. As he turned away, it resumed wriggling. “What the…?”

“Oh, don’t mind that stuff,” the cook said. “It’s harmless. Mostly. Nah, kidding. ‘s not really alive, just sorta… active. Keeps it fresh.”

“Where’s it from?” the Fisherman asked, wandering over to get a closer look, his curiosity piqued.

“Oh, now… he did tell me. What was it? ‘R’-something. Rl-yah? Something like that?”

“R’lyeh!?” the Fisherman offered, taking several steps back.

“Thassit! Guy who brought it in said that it can keep pretty much forever, something about extra-dimensional properties. Anyway, ya gonna stand there all day or do ya wanna make yourself useful?”

“Er… I suppose I could…” he replied warily. “The diagnostic is going to take a while.”

“Lovely! Hop over and gimme a hand with this cart.”

The Fisherman vaulted over the row of assorted appliances and took the other side of the large metal trolley. Together they began pushing it toward the large serving hatches where several Agents were waiting.

“Why don’t they just use portals to move this stuff?” the Fisherman asked.

“They tried,” the cook replied. “See that?” She pointed to a large purple stain on the ceiling. “That’s what ‘appened. So now it‘s all done manually.”

It took about a minute to reach the serving hatch to the Cafeteria.

“Now, who wanted what?” the cook said.

“Mine was the veggie special, thanks, Cal,” a short, green skinned Agent bearing the red pen flash patch of the Department of Technical Errors said.

“Cal? Short for something?” the Fisherman asked as Cal passed the agent a plate of rather blackened plant matter. Surprisingly, the agent did not look at all disappointed. Whether this was because his species was perfectly able to digest such things or simply that he had become used to the low standards in the Cafeteria, he wasn’t sure.

“Nope,” Cal replied. “It’s all my author gave me. Bit character in a Sherlock ‘olmes fic. I was recruited and ended up working here as they were short staffed. No wonder, I never see anyone else around ‘ere. Yes, darling?”

A young woman in a crisp black Assassin’s suit bearing the DMS flashpatch stepped up. She was evidently a new recruit by the way she smiled at the prospect of eating Cafeteria food. “What have you got?” she asked.

“Anything you want,” Cal replied. “Preferably something that’s either on the trolley or at this end of the kitchen though.”

“Erm, what’s that?” The Agent pointed to a plate of the grey eldritch meat.

“You probably don’t want it,” the Fisherman butted in.


“Let’s just say that I don’t think it was intended for human consumption. Or consumption by anything that doesn’t have tentacles, for that matter.”

“Well, do you have any fruit?”

“Fruit?” Cal repeated.

“Yeah, anything really, I’m not that hungry.”

“Well, er, yeah, think so. Fish, mind getting the bag from cupboard 16? It’s over there.” Cal pointed to a row of storage cupboards along one of the side walls.

The Fisherman jogged over and located #16. Opening it revealed an empty recess with a portal in one wall. He reached in and retrieved a burlap sack. Inside the sack were various fruits, none of which he recognised. He returned with the sack to Cal.

“Here ya go.” Cal reached inside the sack, retrieved an assortment of fruit, and placed them in a bowl. “Careful with the little yellow ones, wait ‘til they’re not jumping before ya eat them.”

The woman walked away, holding the bowl of fruit out in front of her as if it contained nuclear waste.

“Where does that plothole go?” the Fisherman asked.

“Somewhere off in Operations. I think any fruit that Agents pick up on missions get dumped in there.”

“Got any cake?” the next customer, an elderly DMSER researcher asked.

“We got this,” Cal replied, retrieving a bowl of brown sponge-like pudding. Worryingly, it appeared to have three insectoid eyes in the center.

Over the next ten minutes or so, the Fisherman helped Cal serve various unusual and in his opinion inedible things to unsuspecting customers. One lucky DoSAT technician even got a plate of the mystery extradimensional meat.

“Hang on a minute,” the Fisherman said as they reached his TARDIS on their walk back through the endless kitchens. He dashed inside and returned with the large bucket of scenery-custard-sludge. “Might be good for something. Not sure if it’s edible, so you might want to test it.”

“What is it?” Cal asked, dipping her finger into the sludge.

“Disintegrated scenery. Might pass for custard though.”

“Not bad actually,” she declared after licking her finger. “Thanks!”

“Anytime!” He headed back inside the TARDIS. The diagnostic had finished and the results were displayed on the viewscreen.

[TARDIS Diagnostic complete. Error in dimensional rectifier circuitry. Attempting automated repair; time until you’re more likely to end up where you want to be than not: 2 hours. Don’t let me stop you from trying in the meantime, though.]

“Oh well,” the Fisherman said to himself. “Can’t hurt to have another try.” He verified the coordinates, activated the flight program, and the dimensional rotor whirred into life.

“Nope.” The Fisherman was standing in a large hangar-type room. Seemingly attached to the far wall was a roughly cylindrical silver shape, ending in a flat plate. Standing under it were two people in lab coats.

As the Fisherman walked the length of the hangar toward the silver shape, he realised that it was a giant arm with its hand placed palm outwards. “What the…?” he mused to himself.

“Huh!?” one of the technicians spun around in shock. “Fish?” It was Agent Chase, the DoSAT modification technician who had made the initial ‘upgrades’ to the Fisherman’s TARDIS.

“Chase? What is this?” the Fisherman asked.

“An arm. A large biomechanical arm, to be precise,” the technician sounded exhausted. “I suppose I should ask what you’re doing here, but knowing you I get the feeling the answer will be something along the lines of ‘no idea’.”

“Pretty much. TARDIS satnav is on the blink.”

The other technician, a teenage girl with black hair who’s lab coat was evidently several sizes too big, stopped tapping away at the control panel she was holding and looked up at the arm. “Power spike, get out the way!” The trio dashed to the side of the room as the massive hand shook with an unseen energy. After a few seconds, a yellow forcefield made up of concentric hexagonal sections appeared in the air. It stretched from the floor to the ceiling, effectively dividing the large room in two.

The young technician looked between her control device, the arm and Chase in a mix of astonishment and excitement. “It… worked?” she said.

“Seems that way,” Chase replied. “Must be a power problem. I told them that if they wanted this thing working that we’d need a stable power supply, but did they listen?”

“Is that an–” the Fisherman began.

“An AT field! Yep!” the girl said, now full of energy.

“So that arm is from—”

“An Evangelion unit!”

“The Anime division wanted one due to the rise in Eva badfic since the Rebuild movies. That and a giant mecha is quite useful in any number of anime continua.” Chase filled in the gaps.

“So there’s an actual Eva Unit attached to that thing!?” the Fisherman asked.

“Yeah, it’s in the next room, we just didn’t want to be in harm’s way while we were testing it.”

At that moment the AT field dropped, allowing the three access to the small door to the next hangar.

Lying prone on the floor, connected to myriad steel restraining structures and monitoring devices was a silver-and-pink Evangelion Unit.

“Say hello to Evangelion Unit-14, as its creator called it. I won’t give you the backstory, suffice to say that its original pilot has no further need for it,” Chase explained. “We’ve had great difficulty getting it to do anything, especially since we added the modifications.”

“Well if they’re anything like the modifications you made to my TARDIS, I’m not surprised!” the Fisherman joked.

“Ha ha. We had no choice, short of only allowing 14-year-old humans to pilot the thing. Our simulations suggested that anything else would be, er, rejected. Violently. So we built a wrapper system to fool the Eva into thinking that there’s a human child piloting even when there’s an alien tentacle-thing at the controls.”

“But first,” the young tech butted in. “We had to extract the Sue’s mother’s soul from the core. It wasn’t easy but we got there in the end. It’s in the jars over there.”

“Huh?” the Fisherman turned to see three large large jam jars, each full of a yellowish liquid resting on a makeshift workbench next to Unit-14’s left foot. “In those?”

“Yup,” the tech continued. “I thought it’d be too risky to put the whole thing together. I’m Serena by the way, DoSAT Technician Third Class.” She extended a hand, which the Fisherman shook warily.

A thought suddenly flashed into the Fisherman’s head. “Who’s in the plug now?” he asked.

“One of the agents that captured the thing. Raz. Probably should get him out now, Serena.”

Serena nodded and tapped some buttons on the control pad. The Eva’s entry plug slowly ejected and opened. A middle-aged, grey-haired man emerged, drenched in LCL. He waved to the party below. “We’re getting there, Chase,” he shouted as he tried to clamber down from atop the unit. “AT field is progress.”

“Indeed it is,” Chase shouted back. “Now we just need to move the thing!” Serena began tapping away once more, and the massive biomech slowly moved away from the wall. “Wait, Serena, release the restraint!” the senior tech shouted, making a grab for the control panel. It was too late. There was a deafening crunch-crack as the partition wall through which the Unit’s arm had been placed gave way under tension. Serena’s face went redder than the Fisherman thought possible.

“Er… at least Unit-14’s not damaged,” Serena almost whispered.

“True,” Chase snapped. “However I doubt Makes-Things will be all that happy that even more damage has been done in the pursuit of getting this frakking thing up and running.”

“You’re a Time Lord, right?” Chase asked the Fisherman. “Can’t you just pop back in time to stop it from happening?”

“Not that easy,” he replied. “Crossing timelines is a nasty business at the best of times, in a place like HQ with a TARDIS that seems to have a hangover? No. Just no. Saying that, I’d best be off, got to see a small tree about a big situation. Apparently. Bye!” He made an exaggerated fangirlish wave, and immediately made a resolution to never do it again.

“Are you going to be nice to me this time?” the Fisherman said as he set the TARDIS into motion for the third time in an hour. He tried his hardest not to think about his destination, his mind flitting from Evie to the wonders of Bleepka to dimensional physics to how good Mikuru Asahina looked during his last trip to the Suzumiya-verse.

After about a minute’s flight time, the TARDIS landed with a scraping noise and finally a bump. The Fisherman rushed to the door, swung it open and rushed out. Straight into a Generic Surface wall.

“Aargh!” he shouted. “What the hell!? No!” He stormed back to the control panel and activated a ‘reverse orientation’ script that he’d programmed in after getting fed up with this exact problem. There was a short vworp. “Try again.” This time, he emerged into the almost comically large office of the Bonsai Monkey Puzzle Tree.

I see you finally decided to respond to my message,  the Flower said in a distinctly irritated voice.

“Sorry, TARDIS trouble. I can’t have been that long, can I?”

You have a time machine, do you not? You could have been here an hour before I even contacted you.

“It’s not that simple,” the Fisherman began. “You can’t… oh, never mind.” He decided that a full explanation of causality would just make the situation worse. “What do you have for me?”

You are familiar with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic continuum, are you not?

“Yes,” the Fisherman said, his tone slightly more excited than he would have liked.

Good. Due to a sudden influx of fic to this continuum, it is in danger of destabilising. As a result we are assigning missions to it to most Agents able to take them. One such Agent has requested assistance. You are to render that assistance.

“One? You sent them in alone?”

Like I said, this is an exceptional scenario. Now, if you are truly concerned about their welfare, you will get going immediately.

The Fisherman headed back into the TARDIS and brought up the fic details on the viewscreen.

“At least it won’t be Cupcakes,” he said to himself. “Pity the poor sods who had to deal with that monstrosity. Must buy them a round of Bleepka sometime…”

Continua: My Little Pony: FiM
Fic title: The longing
Reference: FFN
Notes: Nnnope!

The Fisherman set the destination controls to track the Agent’s position within the fic and set the TARDIS in motion.