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Archive for December 2013

Two for the price of one – 1

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Ever since watching the 50th anniversary special THIS was following me. No idea, really, how it should end, but I hope it will end somehow (unlike some of my other stories).

***

He was so tired.

He was tired, but he simply had to see this through.

Gallifrey Falls No More – could he had given himself a hint even a bit less subtle? And that “Who knows” still sent shivers down his spine. And revisiting the favourites? Well, he’d have to learn something new in order to do that. Not every male Time Lord had the ability to even steer their regeneration in the general direction of what they wanted (he never got ginger, after all) and even they couldn’t just, well, roll back to the previous bodies. Once a form was used, it was lost.

And even with the hint and the premonitions he had a lot of hard work still before him, and the slight suspicion that he was missing something big – maybe not planet-sized but still big – wasn’t really helping. Sometimes he felt his brainpower just shunting to the side to resolve that vague impression instead of doing the proper work of finally finding his home planet.

What he really hoped for was finding Gallifrey and being informed that he was just a little bit late and that the President had died of injuries just before they went into stasis (not to mention someone conveniently having shot him when he was incapacitated during regeneration, just to make sure he stays dead). Wouldn’t this be nice? No Rassilon to deal with, no need to confront his once-friend and wannabe puppet master, much less hassle, eh? Well, he would take what he could get, and if that meant facing Rassilon on the touchy subject of him driving the Master mad, well, he could work with that.

He kept seeing double and he really hoped it wasn’t some new, interesting effect of time distortion. Main console seemed slightly out of sync with the rest of the control room and it seemed to take so long to find the right keys…

‘You really should get some sleep.’

‘Look who’s talking’ he grunted.

‘You.’

He only shrugged. He couldn’t really argue with himself – even if the other self was the previous one.

He was also a hallucination – slash – TARDIS supported hologram. He wasn’t exactly sure which, but he felt somewhat comforted by his presence all the same.

‘You will be able to think after you have a nap, really.’

‘You’re nagging.’

‘Yep. You left Clara at home so I have to nag. Go, sleep. You’ll do this much faster if you do. Also, you may find the answer to the additional question.’

He turned to face his holo-double.

‘Which is?’

‘What the hell am I missing’ the other him snorted. ‘It’s driving you mad, isn’t it? So just go, get some shut-eye and get back to this in a few hours. After all, Gallifrey isn’t going anywhere, right?’

He rolled his eyes expressively, but gave up.

***

Sleeping helped a bit, but not that much.

Also, his double was temporarily gone. Maybe TARDIS shut him down when he finally listened.

The calculations were almost done, giving him a good estimate of the area in space he should search – not that small, at least a dozen of Sol systems would happily fit in it without even touching, but still, it was better than just “out there”.

***

She was hurting – not in some specific spot, but just hurting. Her eyes, especially, she felt them growing hot and cold, in waves. She could hear movement around her and hear voices, but the language sounded so strange she couldn’t even pinpoint the possible place on Earth it may come from. It didn’t sound like any European language she spoke, or even the ones she could remember ever hearing.

There were things on her arms which felt like restraints, but she didn’t have strength to fight them. Also, she could feel an IV line connected, so she could at least guess that she was, in fact, in a hospital.

Maybe we were in an accident? Oooh, that’s why I don’t understand anything – I got hit in the head and something broke… Not good, girl, not good. You’re gonna communicate with them somehow.

Ouch, my eyes.

Someone put a cooling compress on her eyelids and she actually welcomed the slight sting of an injection with relief.

Asleep, finally.

***

The calculations. They were a stroke of genius, simply. He couldn’t be happier with himself – he still didn’t know which one, but he suspected he must have punched in the code the moment he stopped burning after his regeneration from the Warrior. Sometimes he was sick, sometimes he was hungry, or crazy. Sometimes he was brilliant and inspired. He didn’t exactly remember waking up after that regeneration – just that the mirror in the wardrobe was smashed – but he definitely must have done at least three things. Start the calculations, get changed and lock the memories of the Warrior from direct contact.

He could remember being the Warrior by now, again, although it was still a bit patchy in places, but there was a big gap from the moment he started glowing to sometime around landing in the docs just as the Titanic was getting prepared for the journey.

He could live with that – he had other gaps like this, after all. At times they would suddenly fill in and he knew there was something important and dangerous hidden in them, dangerous enough for Warrior – or the next him – keeping it covered until certain signal comes. Well, hopefully this one wouldn’t interfere with his current plan and he was really grateful to himself for having set up this calculating routine, the observation procedures that were collecting data for the last – khm – years and combining it into an array of information that provided him with all the gravitational anomalies he could wish for, ever. Also, with several other kinds of anomalies, including unexpected neutrino streams and several interesting kinds of radiation, all layered one onto another and delivering him the almost-exact location of a tiny hiccup in space and time which might have, but didn’t actually have to be, the sign of the pocket universe containing stasis-frozen Gallifrey.

Now, what he would need to do when he finds it… Well. He would have really appreciated some actual company – the other him was cool, but someone he could touch would have been so much better. Not Clara, though. He didn’t really want to risk Clara and she confessed she remembered her short stay on Gallifrey (still mind-boggling) and she didn’t really care for meeting all those people again.

So here he was, alone, with a hallucination-hologram for company and an unclear goal…

‘You’re doing it again.’

‘What?’ he didn’t even turn to look at himself.

‘No idea, really, but definitely not what you are supposed to do.’

He walked into his line of view, all insolent smile, trainers and ‘brainy specs’.

‘Come on, you are supposed to help me!’

‘Not really, no. I’m supposed to nag and push you. I can’t help you, as in telling you what to do – I only know what you know and what she knows’ he gestured vaguely around. ‘If you don’t know what you’re missing and she doesn’t know what you mean, I can’t help.’

‘You’re annoying.’

‘But I got you to rest, that’s positive. Thinking any better today, eh? Old brain cells finally firing up? Lately they seemed a bit sluggish.’

‘No need to be offensive’ he frowned and moved around the console. ‘Oh, this was brilliant. Exquisite. I never would have… Well, apparently I did, but I still don’t remember how!’

‘What are you raving about this time?’

‘Oh. I’ve set this thing up to gather all the data… you stupid, why are you asking me about this? You are in there, you should know’ he moved a slide up and a whole new array of buttons rode up from behind the main keyboard. ‘All this data, all this information… you must have access to it.’

The holo frowned, blinked and seemed to be thinking. He never knew he looked that weird when deep in thought.

‘I think I found it’ he finally uttered. ‘It’s weird. I know what they mean, but I don’t… who did it?’

He clapped and hooted.

‘I even blocked the TARDIS from remembering about it, yay!’

‘Or TARDIS is simulating me not remembering’ the brown-suited holo added.

‘You’re messing with me’ he pointed a finger at the holo.

‘Sure. Nobody else around to get on your nerves, you gotta have an imaginary friend then.’

‘Or an imaginary fiend. Imaginary… menace. I-ma-gi-na-ry-meee-nace’ he sang, strolling around the readouts and monitors. ‘You seen this?’ he pointed and the holo rolled his eyes.

‘Yeah. You mean that little blinking spot? Seen it. Been there for the last minute or so.’

‘You’re useless’ he muttered again.

‘I can hear you.’

‘You are meant to. Anyway. We’ve narrowed the scope of search to a very, very tiny area. Volume. Now the question is, what do we do with it? How do we get them out?’

‘How did you get them in in the first place?’ the holo leaned against a pillar, his coat slightly sinking into the structure.

‘Well, I had help. Some help. You. I mean, him, me, in your version. You know.’

‘But you needed them only for the pure, machine, power. You had all the calculations on your sonic’ he pointed ‘and you just needed the other TARDISes to work with it properly. You didn’t need them for the solution itself.’

He shook his head.

‘I could really use another head. Or two, or twelve, in fact. My own just doesn’t work correctly. Not that I’m going mad, as…’ he trailed off.

‘Yes?’ the holo whispered finally.

‘How they did it the last time. Not how I did it, because one way can work completely different than the other, but how they did it. They broke out of a time lock, linking to the Master. They had a, a, a lifeline. They threw a White Star at him, after all. And he pulled them in. Now if only I could think about something that could reach inside…’

***

It wasn’t actually that hard after all. Blood worked best for everybody and although Doctor wasn’t very happy to admit it, he did have a close relative or two still – hopefully – alive during the Time War and living at home. Using something that the holo christened “hi-tech voodoo doll” he tried to create a link to the interior of the pocket universe, only to see it go suddenly “fizz” instead of the expected “snap”.

He didn’t exactly curse, but the collection of animal names from Salxyfatoria he growled made the holo shake his head.

‘You should make sure you don’t use these in front of company. Especially the xenologists. You know they consider these to be quite vile.’

‘Why do you think I’m using them now?’ he threw his arms up in exasperation. ‘If only I had had enough foresight to leave a marker on Gallifrey itself, it all would have been so simple. Something obvious and common so that everyone would…’

Silence was only broken by his hissing breath and TARDIS’ slight rumbling.

The holo chewed his lip in expectation.

He turned slowly to face his double.

‘Are you telling me I did actually leave a marker?’

‘No-pe’ the ‘p’ was explosive. ‘I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already.’

Written by Srebrna

2013/12/14 at 21:37

What actually is Santa’s secret?

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How does he manage this wonderful feat of going all around the world in one night and delivering gifts to all children who believe in him?

Well, my dear, the whole thing about Santa is that it’s almost all fake. Not all, but almost.

Why?

Well… when Santa Claus – actually, Saint Nicolas – started the whole gift-giving thing, he was all about the children in dire need (or in not so dire one, but still hard to fulfill). He wasn’t very strong at maths, though. He guessed, more or less, the number of people on Earth (of which he knew mostly Europe) and so also guessed the number of children he would need to visit. He was wrong in both cases.

After a few dozen years he noticed that although he’s trying to give something to each little tot he can reach, there are still many, many children left with no gifts.

So you know what he did? He created the first franchise ever in the whole world.

Franchise is when someone has a great idea but doesn’t want to produce more or work longer, so he sells others the idea and allows them to use his plans, logo and whatever is needed so that they can imitate him (or her).

Santa found some very nice people who also were all about the children and shared with them the general goal of giving the kids something to brighten the very middle of winter. Very middle of winter is a dark, cold and usually quite unpleasant time, so everyone needs something to brighten it.

So Santa gave away some “info-packs” that covered the dates, general timelines of gift-giving, shared the access to his toy factory and helped his new friends to set up their own routes and ways of working, like in properly managed teamwork. It wouldn’t do for them to go to one child twice and to miss another, after all.

So they divided their duty areas more or less by the country borders (more or less, as this changes constantly) and Saint Nick could kick back a bit and be sure that when he is falling on his face after his deliveries, someone else, like Kris Kringle, is delivering his part in Americas.

Turned out that it was a good idea, as not only he found more humans to be living on Earth that he counted originally, but also, well… they multiplied. Each year there were more children to visit and if he tried to cover all these cities and villages in only one night he would have disappointed so many. But by sharing the task with others – Sinterklaas (and Zwarte Pietr), Father Christmas (who didn’t want to tell anyone his actual true name), Ded Moroz (who was better suited to long journeys through empty Siberia), and even several Angels (who skive off their choir hours on that day) – he managed to spread the pressure a bit.

Now, sometime around 17th or 18th century there came a question of upgrading the toy factory. The thing is, elves are very, very traditional. Little guys, very creative, terribly kind and highly intelligent but not that good as far as change is considered. I mean, come on. They still think all gifts for all kids in Europe will fit in one sack (I admit, it’s a big sack, bigger on the inside even, but still it’s not bottomless!). They think the number of children in Finland is below 1000. They… well, they really aren’t big on change.

So they went on strike when told to do something more modern than just soft dollies and toy soldiers.

After two months Santa gave up, changed into his civilian garb and went shopping. Fortunately the rare metals collected by them all over the years and treasures found by accident did fund a good shopping spree in one of the then-new malls. He shared the solution with his friends and they all agreed that elves got way too stubborn about their traditions, and as the world was changing, kids wanted something more sophisticated. Kids change much faster than elves do, that’s for sure.

So you want to know why you see a toy of one of well-known brands under your Christmas Tree? That’s exactly why. Sometimes, somewhere, Santa still manages to drop off a few simple dolls or a jack-in-a-box, or a toy wagon made by elves, but in most cases he just steals off to the mall and goes shopping. In the summer, of course, when there is more chance of getting a great deal on a five dozen boxes of LEGO, a hundred kites, a thousand balloons and several crates of assorted electronic noise-makers.

So if you see a big man with a trolley full of toys in July, just look the other way and whistle. Don’t let him know you’ve spotted him. He’s really shy.

Written by Srebrna

2013/12/06 at 03:26