lost_spook: (Annie writing)
[personal profile] lost_spook
I've finished my endless UNIT series, so now I'm contemplating WIPs. I have other shorter things to do, but I can go back to at least one long fic. I shall probably tackle the first, but here's most of what I have of them. Which one would people prefer? (Of course, I'll probably get mugged by a passing plot bunny, but I'll bear it in mind).

Please note, some of this may not have been corrected fully yet.


WIP, Prologue, Ch1 and Ch2 already up on Teaspoon, featuring Five, Nyssa and Tegan at the Great Exhibition in London, 1851.

***

Chapter Three

*

What did she think she was doing?

Tegan had been asking herself that for the past couple of hours. She couldn’t seem to help herself, could she? She could blame the Doctor all she liked, and Inspector Monk, too, for that matter (and she did), but she’d leapt in feet first as ever.

She had tried to offer an excuse, pointing out to the abrasive Victorian Inspector that she was a paid companion (well, all right, that was a lie, but that was the Doctor’s story, and she was sticking to it), and not that sort of servant. At which point, the sardonic Mr Monk had looked down his nose at her and said he was aware of that, but he had assumed that she was capable of performing basic household tasks with some competence. Of course, she’d told him that she bloody well could, or words to that effect, and that had demolished her excuse.

He had asked her to become a servant in the Mansfields’ establishment; his eyes and ears in what was proving to be a sensitive and difficult case. He’d confessed that he couldn’t guarantee that there would be no danger, even if it was unlikely, and she was caught between her usual recklessness, her willingness to help, and the general fact that she seemed to be her own worst enemy wherever she was. Or maybe it was only that the Inspector seemed to want her; that he thought she could be useful. Tegan let insults slide off her like the proverbial water off a duck’s back, but maybe the Doctor’s continual slights were getting to her. Everyone liked to be needed now and then.

Whatever it was that had done it, she’d agreed and now she was following him up the steps of another one of those London Georgian town houses, this one in a wider, cleaner street and far larger and grander than the Hargraves’. What was worse, being from Australia in the Twentieth Century and not London in the Nineteenth, she didn’t actually know how to do a housemaid’s work, and this would probably end up going horribly wrong, with everyone annoyed with her, especially the Doctor, who seemed to have the unrealistic expectation that she would sit quietly where he had left her, even though she never did.

Still, she thought, it’ll be scrubbing and dusting and polishing. How hard can it be? She bit her lip as Monk rapped on the black door. Who was she kidding? She wasn’t a history buff, but she knew enough to guess that it meant getting up at the crack of dawn and working till last thing at night, taking orders without talking back (that was going to be difficult) and if she was going to be expected to do the laundry and work out what they did with all that starch, blue, scrubbing boards and mangles, she was going to be out on her ear within the hour. It looked a big enough place to have a laundry maid, she decided, trying to be optimistic.

*

“Where is Tegan?” asked Nyssa, once she had the Doctor had returned to the Hargraves’s house.

Charlotte moved forward to greet her, lifting her wide skirt to avoid the short cabinet against the wall. “That policeman came to fetch her. I do not understand what business it is of his, but it seems that there has been some trouble, and her aunt has sent for her.”

“Has she really?” said the Doctor, raising an eyebrow fractionally.

Nyssa only narrowly managed to swallow her protest at the impossibility of this, and now she frowned, as much at the Doctor’s tone as at this worrying turn of events.

“I did ask her if she ought not to wait for you,” Charlotte continued. “She seemed not to think it necessary, and Mr Monk was willing to escort her – and eager to leave, and pester other innocent families, no doubt. You are both, of course, still welcome to remain until she is able to return.”

“Thank you,” said Nyssa.

The Doctor played with his tall hat, in his hands now that they were indoors.

“Doctor?” Nyssa said, leaning over to him, as soon as Charlotte left them alone again. “Whatever can have happened?”

The Doctor only huffed, and muttered, “Why, why, will she never stay where I leave her?”

“Doctor, it sounds to me as thought this unpleasant Inspector has forced her to go with him. We had better try and follow at once. She told me she didn’t trust him.” When he only glanced at her as if she had started talking a different, language, she raised her chin, and added, “And if you don’t, then I shall!”

“Yes, yes,” he murmured. “Sorry, Nyssa. It sounds as though she made up this tale about her aunt, so I’m a little more optimistic as yet, but you’re right. We need to find out where they went to. I’ll go – you stay here and see what you can find out about that rather odd police officer from Miss Hargrave.”

“Doctor -.”

The Doctor patted her should and smiled at her. “It’s the most useful course of action, Nyssa. And you did say earlier that you couldn’t possibly walk another step in that – ah – charming outfit.”

“I can change!”

“We can’t get back to the TARDIS, yet, as you might remember. Even if we could, I’m afraid you would shock our hosts, and we can’t have that -.”

Nyssa wrinkled her nose. “By wearing more practical clothes?”

“Yes,” the Doctor said, with a nod, as he strode to the door, turning back as he opened it. “Victorians are like that.”

***



Not posted anywhere, beginning of Charley and Eight in the West Country in 1910, investigating something nasty left in the wake of the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.

***

One: Forsaken Walls

*

“It’s a lovely, sunny day,” Charley remarked, surveying the rural surroundings. “Here we are, out in the countryside, all hills and thatched cottages and fields and you’ve got that look on your face. You’re about to say, ‘Charley, something’s not right.’ Aren’t you?”

He had to smile. “Something like that. Don’t you feel it?”

“No,” she returned. “And, whatever it is, I suspect I don’t want to.”

He pulled aside some of the nearby undergrowth. “Look, the remains of a building. And there’s a ruined church over there.”

“That’s not necessarily bad, though,” she pointed out.

He nodded. “When there’s a chill in the air I don’t like and ruined buildings, I suspect a possible connection. Of course, it may be coincidence. I wonder exactly where we are?”

“1910,” she reminded him. “Just the sort of day for a picnic in the West Country, you said. Sandwiches and jam tarts and ginger beer and a walk in the Quantocks, you said.”

He moved on towards the church and she followed, fighting her way through the thick undergrowth and trying to avoid the stinging nettles.

“Hmm,” he mused. “1910, West Country? No, doesn’t ring any bells. Besides, I think this is something older than that.”

She added, “There’s not a chill in the air anyway. It’s boiling. Are you sure you didn’t catch a cold on that dreadful watery planet with the unpronounceable name?”

“Hwiqiama,” he responded automatically. “Don’t be silly, Charley.”

“I’m not the one muttering about dark forebodings on a bright summer’s day. My nurse would have asked what I had for supper the night before.”

He stopped abruptly and she walked into him.

“Doctor!”

He turned. “For that, I’m going back to the TARDIS to fetch something to prove I’m right. You stay here, Miss Pollard, and don’t get sunburned.”

“Fine,” said Charley. “I shall fetch the picnic hamper – and I might eat all the jam tarts as well while I wait.”

“As long as you leave me some sandwiches and lemonade.”

*

Charley pulled the blanket out of the hamper and settled down, not far from what was left of the church. She hunted in the basket for a cheese roll and her book and prepared to enjoy herself while the Doctor proved his point with some terribly clever gadget.

Of course, she probably should go and help, but it was rather hot and it hadn’t been much fun on Hiw – Hia- whatever-it-was-again.

*

Really, thought the Doctor, companions these days were growing less and less respectful. He rifled through the ornate chest to one side of the console, pulling out a mournful looking stuffed rabbit and a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “No,” he murmured to himself. After all, Grace had had some respect -. He sat up. “No, no, she thought I was losing my marbles. Aha!”

With perfect timing, he retrieved a bag of marbles and beamed at them. Well, Benny, then. Benny had – well, maybe respect wasn’t the word and he wasn’t sure it fitted Ace either but certainly they hadn’t used to laugh when he predicted trouble coming. At least, not most of the time.

*

The trouble with the Doctor, thought Charley, was that, even when one was sitting happily on a woollen blanket in a meadow, armed with an exciting novel and a sandwich or two, one couldn’t help wondering where he was and what sort of mess he was getting himself into this time.

She sighed, closed up the book and went in search of him.

*

The only thing she found other than wildlife was a small church falling into ruin. That, she thought, looked the sort of thing that would be sure to attract his attention, so she headed in its direction, passing a few sheep on the way. She looked down at her long skirts and realised that she had already managed to get grass stains on the fawn coloured dress. It was the sort of thing her nurse had always had to scold her for.

She entered the tumbledown building. “Hello?” she called out. “Doctor, if you’re hiding, it isn’t funny -.

Then she saw the body.

*

Charley backed away, looking about her. Suddenly the church seemed far more shadowy than it had an instant before. The Doctor had mentioned a chill in the air and she had thought he was going barmy, in this heat, but she shivered now. She felt something, too, an icy wave that passed over her and voices from somewhere – shouts and clashes, as if from some terrible battle. She shook herself and put her hands to her ears.

“Whatever are you doing?” asked a voice she couldn’t quite shut out and she looked up to see the Doctor standing over her, holding – inexplicably – a bag of marbles.

*

“I found her like it,” said Charley, leading him over to the body, once she’d told him what she thought of him for startling her and refused the offer of a game of marbles. “Lying there, dead, but without a single mark on her. And she’s not exactly old, poor thing.”

He crouched down. “You didn’t move her – touch anything at all?”

“No. I was too shocked – and then I heard those odd noises.”

The Doctor looked up at her. Somehow it never failed to surprise her at moments like these how very blue his eyes could be.

“You’re going to say I told you so, aren’t you?”

He smiled sadly. “No, I don’t think so. Charley, I don’t like it. I’ve seen something like this before.”

“Oh, good. Well obviously, not good, but at least you know what it is, then?”

He got to his feet. “No. I’ve seen this type of event before. However, it could have any number of causes from something extremely localised to an attack that could became planet-wide. From looking at this unfortunate woman, and your account of what happened to you and the atmosphere in here -.”

“Yes, it feels almost as if something in here is causing some sort of vibration, except it isn’t. It couldn’t be. It’s only an old ruin.”

He nodded at her. “Exactly. I’d guess that there’s someone or something around here – it’s usually some thing in these cases – that feeds on psychic energy. It seems a little more nebulous than some of the other things I’ve encountered of the same sort, but then again, I suspect this isn’t the centre. Or it could be because it’s just had itself a nice meal.”

“Doctor!”

“Sorry, Charley. Where are we again?”

“Well, if you don’t know that, I’m sure I don’t know how I’m supposed to. You claimed it was Somerset in the early Twentieth century, but you weren’t inclined to narrow it down further when we arrived. As I recall, you said, ‘Never mind that, Charley, where did I put the picnic basket? It looks exactly the sort of day for it’ or something along those lines.”

“The West Country?” he said. “Hmm. We’d better head for civilisation and find someone who’s a little more informed on the subject.”

Charley looked back behind them. “What about, well, her? We can’t leave the poor woman lying about like that.”

“I know,” he said, “but on the other hand we can hardly go wandering the country lanes while dragging a dead body behind us.”

She thought about it. “No. Lead on, then, Doctor.”

***



So long ago, neither will probably remember, [livejournal.com profile] clocketpatch and [livejournal.com profile] jjpor both told me to write more with Ten and Donna. A sort of Georgette Heyer crossover (but you don't need to know anything) was probably not what they had in mind.

***

“It’s dark,” said Donna. “It’s dark and we’re in the middle of a wood. Presumably a Regency wood, if my outfit is anything to go by. And if it isn’t, I’m going to kill you for dragging me through the woods in the dark in this get-up.” She paused and then gave a gasp. “Doctor, we’re not, are we?”

He turned around. “Not what? Donna, what are you talking about?”

“We are, aren’t we?” she grinned. “We’re going to meet Jane Austen. Or the Duke of Wellington or something.”

He stared back at her. “I don’t know where you get your ideas from. I suppose we could, after we’ve finished, but what we’re actually here for is a lot less fun.”

“Might have guessed,” she said, but smiled at him. “What, then?”

He smiled back, slowly. “We need to find a falling star.”

*

There was an argument taking place outside the local inn – the Crown. It might have been expected that Sir Gareth Ludlow and his wife Lady Hester would pass it by, but the last time either had witnessed a scene of this nature, they had been in the centre of it and he gave his orders to halt the carriage.

“Look, I’m not asking to darken your doors if you’re going to be so catty about it,” said the lone female in an outmoded dress, who was at the centre of the commotion. “Just tell me if you’ve seen a skinny guy in odd clothes and I’ll be off.”

Gareth crossed over, Hester close behind him. “Is there some trouble, Gibbons?” he queried of the landlord.

“Sir,” he said, widening his eyes in surprise. “No trouble at all. Just trying to tell this baggage – person – that we’ve no call for her sort around here. Begging your pardon, sir,” he added, feeling at look at his lordship’s grey eyes that he had said something wrong and reviewed his language in the light of Lady Hester behind him.

Sir Gareth said, “Gibbons, I believe this lady asked a reasonable question. Perhaps it would be simpler if you answered it? Have you seen a thin man in odd clothes this evening?”

“No,” he said. “She’s out to cause trouble, sir – leave it to me. Wouldn’t want her ladyship distressed, would we?”

Hester exchanged a glance with Gareth, who nevertheless solemnly agreed with the landlord.

The strange woman folded her arms and said, “Well, excuse me for bringing my petty little life and death problems to your happy little inn.”

“Whatever is wrong,” said Hester, reaching her and not appearing to be in the least distressed, “you may be assured we will do all that is in our power to help.”

“Perhaps if you would be so good as to lend us the use of your parlour, we might discover what this is about,” Sir Gareth suggested to the proprietor. “I’m sure Mrs Gibbons will not object?”

Gibbons inclined to the opposite opinion, but he nodded.

*

“Well?” queried Sir Gareth of the stranded female. She was not as young as he had first thought and neither could she be described as fragile, but he was prepared to listen to her story. And, he reflected with some amusement, she was unlikely to cause as much trouble as the last lone female he had rescued from an inn. “What is your difficulty?”

She took a deep breath. “I came here with a friend,” she explained. “We were looking for something – something important, only he disappeared out in the woods and I think he’s been hurt. He’s usually the sort to bounce when he falls, but I heard him yell and then I couldn’t find him. It didn’t seem sensible to go running round the trees in the pitch dark looking for him, especially not in these flipping skirts. I thought I could fetch help here, but no such thing. They took one look at me and decided I was an unsuitable female.” She wiggled her fingers in the air as she said this, which made no sense to him, but illustrated her annoyance clearly.

“How distressing for you,” said Hester, putting a hand over hers and turning back with a faintly questioning gaze to her husband. “It is quite lowering how many people have such commonplace minds when a little thought would persuade them of the unlikeliness of such things.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Ruffians out in the woods? That’s quite a tale.”

“It’s true,” she said, sensing his light mockery of her story. “And I don’t know what it was that got him. Maybe it was a poacher, then, clever clogs.” She caught their respective expressions at that and swallowed. “Sorry. But he could be lying out there dead, and all anyone wants to discuss is my morals, or lack of them!”

Hester took a hand. “That is very trying,” she agreed. “And you are trembling, for the cold, too, I shouldn’t wonder. Whatever happened to your cloak?”

She sighed and said, incomprehensibly, “This time-travelling malarkey’s a lot harder when the Doctor’s gone AWOL with his bit of psychic paper.”

Sir Gareth was frowning. He saw that Hester believed in her distress and that inclined him to accept that part of her story must be genuine – but was she perhaps deranged?

“Donna,” said a voice at the door. “Sorry about that. Something got me -. Hello, then. Who are you two?”

Gareth rose and crossed to greet him. “I am Sir Gareth Ludlow and this is my wife. Who might you be sir?”

*

[They return home to find Hildebrand waiting.]

“Uncle Gary,” said Hildebrand Ross, appearing at the door. Then he coloured, recollecting himself. “I suppose I shouldn’t call you that and I know I’ve a dashed cheek, turning up here like this, but – oh, well, I shall explain how it was and I knew you and Aunt Hester would understand!”

He surveyed the unexpected arrival with only the briefest raise of his eyebrow. “Please, inform me in the morning, as I suspect this promises to be a long tale and we have only this moment returned from a trying journey. Only assure me first you have not shot anyone.”

“That is very unkind in you,” Hester reproached him, joining him in the hallway. “Naturally, he has not. Hildebrand, it is a great pleasure to see you and you are always welcome here. It should have been more convenient to have had some warning of your arrival, for I fear Mrs Garner will have words, but I am sure when you explain it all -.”

“My love,” said Gareth, lightly, “it is absurd to find my housekeeper so alarming.”

Hildebrand said, with a grin, “Thank you, Aunt Hester.”

“And these are our other guests,” said Gareth. “Hildebrand, this is Dr Smith and Miss Noble, who are travellers. Doctor, Miss Noble, this is Hildebrand Ross, who once had the goodness to shoot me.”

The Doctor paused, but shook Hildebrand’s hand regardless. “Do you have people who shoot you round to stay a lot?”

“Only Hildebrand,” returned Sir Gareth. “He is unique in that respect.”

Hester frowned at him. “Gareth, that is most unkind in you. You know how sorry Hildebrand was, and how much he tried to make amends.”

“And, all in all, I’m excessively grateful to him,” agreed her husband. “This is getting to be something of an occasion. Hester, have you not invited Widmore and Almeria?”

Her voice sounded a little unsteady. “I confess I have not. How – how remiss of me. I collect I should have extended the invitation to your sister and doubtless to Susan also and all their progeny.”

“I cannot conceive how you could have omitted to do so,” he said.

Hester said carefully, “Perhaps we should discuss this in the morning? I cannot but feel we should all be -.”

“I’m sure you are right,” agreed Gareth.

*

“Hildebrand?” said Donna.

He coloured instantly.

“I’m so sorry,” put in the Doctor. “Parents, eh?”

He grinned then. “It might be of more use in the future – I hope to be a dramatist.”

“Still working on Katharine of Aragon’s black heart?” queried Gareth. “I thought you had quite given up the tragic drama.”

He turned. “When I look at what I wrote it that inn, I am ashamed to recollect how I read it aloud to anyone.”

“I found it vastly entertaining,” said the other lightly.

He said, “However, I do very much wish to make my mark with my pen and Prudence feels that something lighter might have more appeal -.”

“Comedy?” said Gareth, unable to picture Hildebrand creating something suitable.

*

[After that, I have only random scenes, which I will save, barring this:]

“Well,” said the man with the quizzing glass. “I don’t see what Gareth sees in you.”

Donna drew herself up and slapped him. “I don’t know what the hell is wrong with everyone round here. Even if I was some sort of fortune-hunter, or whatever it is you all think I am, I’d hardly come and stay in the guy’s house, with him and his wife – and if you lot are so blind you can’t see the way those two are about each other -.”

“That’s enough, Donna,” said the Doctor from behind a frozen smile. “I’m afraid you’re not improving things.”

“Oh?”

“Language. You don’t sound like a lady.”

She said, “Who said I was? I happen to be the new housemaid, thank you very much, so clear off.”

“I hope you’re keeping your cover stories straight. You told the old gentleman you were the housekeeper, that villager that you were Sir Gareth’s sister-.”

“Yeah, remind me not to do that again,” she put in. “That was a mistake.”

He frowned. “You haven’t been… making up stories about me, have you?”

“You?” said Donna. “Well, maybe one or two. People keep asking questions. The Spanish Inquisition has nothing on the types who keep popping up round here.”

***



And then in long-hand there's the Owl Service rip off for Eight and Lucie (sort of asked for by [livejournal.com profile] pitry Very sort of.), the one where Four, Sarah and Harry on get locked up for week, and probably others. Decisions...

Date: 26 Sep 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curuchamion.livejournal.com
OMB TEN AND DONNA AND GEORGETTE HEYER PLZ

(except you'll have to tell me which book it goes with, first, or I shall get incredibly mixed up.)

Date: 26 Sep 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
john_amend_all: (cleanlife)
From: [personal profile] john_amend_all
Well, I'd vote for Eight and Charley, but that's mainly because I'm not familiar with the crossovers for the other two.

(I'm now imagining how a similar post of mine would read: "Would you prefer the one with Zoë, the one with Zoë or the one with Zoë?")

Date: 27 Sep 2010 10:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] belantana.livejournal.com
TEN & DONNA +11111111111

Date: 28 Sep 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Well, I'd like to read all of them, but I'd like to vote for Ten and Donna right now, please?

Er, and in other news, I read the last bits of your UNIT fic today (as I said on the Teaspoon, very good!) and then, in my dinner hour, I...kind of wrote fanfic fanfic...

Do you approve of the below - can I put it on Teaspoon? Do you want me to change anything (it's your OCs)? Or should I bury the whole thing and never speak of it again? :D

The Changing of the Guard

UNIT United Kingdom Headquarters, 1990

“And how was the flight, Colonel Bambera?” asked Colonel Ashcombe. They had just finished ritually exchanging salutes, Bambera presenting the outgoing CO with her written orders, one set from the Ministry of Defence and the other from the Secretary General in New York. Now, he probably intended to break the ice.

“Noisy, Colonel,” she replied, recalling the journey from Geneva to Brize Norton in the bone-shaking jump seat of a C-130 Hercules laden with Land Rovers. Not exactly business class.

“And your man Captain Husak is all right wandering around by himself?” he enquired.

“He’s just getting a feel for the facilities and resources here,” she explained, “so he can get me up to speed. Ideally, we want to be ready for action immediately.”

“Oh, definitely. It doesn’t let up around here very much at all.”

Ashcombe waited for her to take a seat before sinking into his own chair. That was the first thing that was going to go, Bambera thought. Something that well-upholstered would play merry hell with her bad back, the legacy of her misspent parachute-jumping youth.

The chair was the only remaining bit of character about the office. Everything else that marked it as an individual’s personal domain had already been removed, boxed up, shipped off. The filing cabinets were still there, the bulging in-tray that her predecessor was bequeathing to her, but all of the other things – the pictures of the wife and kids, the regimental photos, the certificates, the sports trophies, whatever other gewgaws and curiosities Ashcombe had picked up in the course of a career – it was as if they had never been there. A clean slate.

She thought she would have to find something to take their place. Somehow, though, she had managed to go through her life and career without picking up much in the way of souvenirs. Too busy climbing the ladder, too busy having to fight every day to prove she was twice as good, ten times as good, as her whiter, more male contemporaries, because that was what people in her position had to do to get any recognition at all.

“I believe you’re the first commanding officer that’s been promoted from within UNIT itself,” he observed after a moment’s pregnant silence, giving her a half-smile across his desk. Her desk now, she supposed.

“A first for UNITUK,” she agreed. He gave her a blank look for a moment, as if wondering what the blazes “Uni-tuck” was. She fidgeted, embarrassed in spite of herself; spend long enough hanging around New York or Geneva and you started mouthing those overlong UN acronyms without thinking.

“Only sensible,” he opined. “I remember what it was like when I was first posted here. After that unfortunate business with…yes…”

“With Colonel Williams?” she asked, although really she only knew the vaguest sort of scuttlebutt. Some sort of office coup staged by the civilian auxiliaries? They could just try that sort of thing with her, Bambera thought.

“Yes.” Ashcombe coughed discreetly.

“Shame,” she observed.

“Indeed. At least you know the sorts of things you can expect to be dealing with,” he told her, with a snort of abortive laughter. “More than I did. I remember my first real incident – there I was, straight from shuffling papers in Paderborn, right into the middle of alien signals and possessed people and so forth. Rather unsettling, if I’m honest.”

“I can imagine,” she replied, managing to smile back.

“You’ve been with UNIT for, what, six years now?” he mused, showing that he’d checked up on his replacement before she arrived.

“Yes,” she agreed.

“On the Secretary General’s personal staff in New York, posted to headquarters in Geneva, rapid promotion…” He nodded thoughtfully: “You’re a high-flyer, Colonel Bambera.”

Date: 28 Sep 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Continued...

She watched him, waiting for the subtle facial expression or set to the mouth that would convey the unspoken suspicion that UNIT had only finagled the Army promotions and given her the high-profile postings because they wanted to make some sort of political point. Not too many officers knocking round who’d been promoted from Captain to Major, to acting Lieutenant Colonel, then given their own independent command and a promotion to full Colonel to go with it, in the space of five years. Not too many female Colonels, regardless of how long it had taken them to climb the ranks. As for high-flying black female Colonels…

She didn’t see it. Ashcombe gave her the vague half-smile again but she saw no subtext, no patronisation or rancour. And she’d seen them enough times to recognise them when they were there. She knew some people thought she had a chip on her shoulder. To be honest, after some of the things that had been said and done to her in the British Army, and even in UNIT, she was probably entitled to carry a bloody great plank there. Still, whenever she encountered somebody like Ashcombe, somebody genuine who didn’t seem to resent her for being who she was, and worse, being who she was in their white, well-heeled boys’ club, it was always welcome. It restored some small measure of her faith in humanity and her chosen profession.

“I do have field experience,” she reminded him nevertheless.

“Of course,” he agreed. “A wealth of it, from what I’ve read. And Major Evered told me about serving with you in Peru. Very impressive.”

“Thank you, Colonel,” she nodded. “As was he. He sends his regards. He also says he learned everything he knows about alien-fighting from you.”

“Well, that’s a damned lie. He was here before I was.” Ashcombe said this with a certain fondness all the same.

“And of course I was first seconded to UNITUK,” this time she pronounced it “Unit UK”, sparing him from wincing again, “right back in ’84. Colonel Crichton was still in command then.”

“Yes, good man, Crichton,” Ashcombe nodded. “I’ve met him on a couple of occasions. Solid sort of fellow.”

“He was. I hope he’s enjoying his retirement.”

“Do any of us enjoy it?” Ashcombe wondered. “It can’t be easy, going from this to… Well, I’ll be finding out whether it is or not myself, starting next week. That’ll be an experience for me.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” she smiled, thinking that personally she could not think of anything worse than being retired. She felt for Colonel Ashcombe, she really did.

“I should probably take up a hobby,” he mused. “Fishing, or golf, or some such nonsense; get me out of the house.” He looked up at her suddenly, as if he had forgotten she was there: “Anyway, I’m sure you’re all raring to go, Colonel.”

“I can’t wait to get started,” she replied, truthfully.

“Yes, your other man Sergeant Z…” Ashcombe consulted a piece of paper on the desk: “Sergeant Zeb…”

“Sergeant Zbrigniev,” she provided.

“Yes, he’ll be arriving sometime in the next couple of days, I’ve been informed.”

“Excellent news. I was very disappointed to hear that Sergeant Kennedy had decided to return to civilian life.”

“Another good man,” Ashcombe said, as if it was the highest praise he could bestow. “A fixture around here. However, married life changes your priorities, I suppose.”

“I’m sure it does,” Bambera replied. “Still, I needed an experienced senior NCO, so I requested Zbrigniev. He worked for me in Geneva, and before that was involved in the incident in Tanzania. And before that…”

“I see he was here in Britain back in the 70s,” Ashcombe observed, peering closer in the paper. “Some sort of exchange programme with UNIT Poland?”

“Yes,” she confirmed. “Unfortunately, the heightened tensions after the Soviets went into Afghanistan put paid to that particular initiative. Still, he seems to have fond memories of the place, from the amount of time he spends talking about Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.”

“Well, the Brigadier does enjoy a certain reputation in the organisation.”

Date: 28 Sep 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
And continued...

“I can’t say I’ve ever met him in person,” Bambera confessed. “No doubt I shall now that I’m back in the UK.” She unconsciously straightened her uniform tunic. “I hope to get some more foreign personnel over here,” she announced, “and send some of our people overseas. It’s good for them, personally and career-wise, and it’s good for UNIT. The world has changed in the last year or so…”

“It certainly has,” Ashcombe agreed. “I know I spend most of my time preoccupied with extraterrestrial invasions, but even I noticed that Berlin Wall business.”

“Precisely,” she replied. “There’s going to be much more scope for international cooperation now that the Cold War is over. The new governments in the former Soviet bloc will hopefully stop treating their own UNIT contingents primarily as conduits through which they can try to steal alien technology, and we can then work on developing a true global response to the threats facing Earth in the future.”

“Sounds as if I’m retiring just when it’s about to get interesting,” Ashcombe murmured, although without real enthusiasm. In fact that might have been understated sarcasm she heard in his tone.

She’d detected it in his voice when he mentioned Husak and UNIT Poland, and the way he’d spoken of “the first commanding officer”, as if there weren’t fifty or so equivalent postings scattered around the globe, all answering to the Secretariat in Geneva. It seemed that he was one of those who thought of UNIT’s UK contingent as being in some way unique and autonomous. There was a lot of that sort of thinking about, she knew, partly because the UK contingent had been the first established back in the late ‘60s, and had for so long been under the command of the Brigadier, the organisation’s effective founder and still-patron saint. The US and French contingents had similar attitudes, though, to be fair. It was something about certain nations.

It was going to be hard to change that sort of thinking among her officers and men, she realised, but it was going to change. She was determined that it would be so.

“Well, then,” said Colonel Ashcombe, “I suppose I should be off so that you can get settled in…” He looked around awkwardly as if trying to remember whether he had forgotten anything. “We’re currently between scientific advisors,” he recalled. “Should have said. We do go through them at the most frightful rate, since Dr Webber left. I’d have begged him to come back, but…”

“I remember Dr Webber,” Bambera mused, recalling him now. “I’m sure I’ll find somebody,” she said.

“I’m sure you will.” Ashcombe visibly remembered something else: “Ah yes, Torchwood…” He looked up at her, very seriously. “Don’t give them an inch or they’ll steal the silverware.”

“I’ve seen some of the Institute’s work at first hand,” she assured him, grimacing at the memories. “I won’t be giving them a millimetre, let alone an inch.”

“Good to hear it,” he nodded, approvingly.

“Not unless I give them nine millimetres of copper-jacketed lead, anyway.”

“That’s the best policy, I find,” Ashcombe replied. “Our main contact over there at the moment is a greasy little oik called Harrison, if that’s his real name. Mobile telephone and red braces. He’ll no doubt want to arrange a meeting when he finds out you’re in command now.” And won’t that be fun? Bambera thought. “Just treat him with the contempt he deserves and you won’t go far wrong.”

“I’ll bear that in mind,” she told him.

“And the other thing…” He frowned, leaning forward slightly in his seat and dropping his voice. “The other thing is the Doctor.”

Date: 28 Sep 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Last bit, honest!

“The Doctor?”

“Yes, I’ve heard a lot about him of course, from the old hands like Kennedy and Evered, but he’s a bit hard to pin down. Keeps disguising himself too, if the reports we get about his activities are anything to go by.”

“I’d heard that about him,” Bambera agreed.

“Quite. Last couple of sightings mentioned some short chap with a Panama hat and an umbrella…doesn’t match his previous description at all. If you do see him,” he told her, “take a photograph or something, just to prove he’s real and not some sort of story made up by the old sweats. I’d be grateful for the confirmation.”

“I’ll try to remember,” she assured him. “I nearly said I was eager to meet him one of these days, but as I seem to remember, he has a reputation for turning up just when things are about to go seriously pear-shaped.”

“He has that reputation,” Ashcombe concurred. “And now, I really shall be on my way.”

“I’ll see you out, Colonel,” she suggested, rising as he did.

“That’s quite all right,” he replied. “I’d like to take a moment to say goodbye to Miss Lonsdale, Sister, some of the other civilian staff. They tend to get a bit forgotten at moments like this when us military types do all of our silly saluting and relieving each other of command and so forth.”

“Of course,” she nodded. “Take as much time as you need, and then I’ll have someone drive you home.”

He nodded again, approvingly. They saluted each other again, and then he grasped her hand, shaking it firmly: “I’d say good luck, Colonel Bambera, but I don’t think you’ll need it.”

“Everybody needs good luck,” she answered. “If UNIT’s taught me anything, it’s taught me that.”

“I can’t argue with that,” he told her, and left the office.

Bambera stood and watched the door close behind him, then turned and surveyed her new office. The window behind the desk looked out over a rather poorly maintained lawn and gravel driveway to the tall brick wall surrounding headquarters. Her old office had looked out over Lake Geneva. Still, she hadn’t been in command there. That made up for the lost view.

She sat, perching on the edge of Colonel Ashcombe’s chair, and rearranged the pencils on her new desk blotter, considering what she was going to do next and whether her new command was going to like it. Not that she cared overmuch – she would make them like it.

A lot of things were going to change around here, she thought, with all due respect to Colonel Ashcombe and his predecessors. It was time.

The first thing that was going to change, though, was this bloody chair.

END

Date: 29 Sep 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
!!!!! is about right - I can't quite believe I wrote it either... You're right, everyone will think I'm crazy... But:

Hehehe - you've got another 80s UNIT story planned! XD (Although, as you say, it'd be something different with most or all of the main cast of OCs having moved on - and possible Silurians! - but still...)

And no, I'm not surprised at all that you know what happened to all of your characters afterwards - I mean, I know what all of those retro-TW types were doing up to and including WW2 and beyond (the ones who lived that long) :D, so...

Thanks for the thumbs-up on Col Ashcombe! I didn't know if I was pitching him right. And 80s TW was almost certainly populated by creeps like Harrison...so if I ever ventured there, I'd definitely have people like him...

Heh - yeah, in the story, Kennedy did sound as if he was moving on sooner rather than later, so they'd probably have a new Sergeant about the place by then... I sort of have Evered down as the high-flying type, really - very competent. And him going back to "proper" soldiering makes sense - UNIT was probably just a career step for him really (or he would have thought so when he first went there). Sorry to hear how it ended for him, but I can see that too based on what we see in the stories - he's the sort to lead from the front and get in harm's way, so...

Uh-hum, wink-and-a-nod etc on Ashcombe being gone by '88 as it seems a plot point in your story...

But yeah, I suppose he could be back in a caretaker capacity in the wake of some crisis or other. Yeah, I don't really think Bambera had been in charge too long in Battlefield either - she didn't seem to have met the Brig before or to know too much about the Doctor... I still think Battlefield took place in about 1995 or so (pretending I didn't quite hear all the daft near-future references like having a king and £5 coins). So I was trying to split the difference between that and the end of the 80s UNIT crew circa 1997...

And good call on UNIT discontinuity - the (90s?) UNIT in Battlefield seem like a very different organisation to the 70s UNIT of the Brig and Benton - most of the personnel are foreign, it seems much more under UN control (blue berets and everything), so some sort of new broom had swept through. Maybe it was something as bad as British UNIT getting more or less wiped out in some alien incident gone wrong and they had to rebuild? Yikes.

And I think the Unified Intelligence Taskforce of NuWho is a completely different organisation, even if people like the Brig were apparently still involved with it in some semi-official capacity. I think the original UNIT may have been disbanded after that whole blowing-up-Downing-Street-with-a-missile incident (thanks, Nine and Mickey!).

I sort of thought that after Nat they'd go back to the revolving-door scientific advisers, because he was far better at the job than he ever realised (they didn't seem to have one at all in Battlefield - good job the Doctor was around!).

I don't know, I think if I do post it, I'll change a couple of lines (and maybe the date) to avoid treading on your toes any (because it would bother me, really - I'm like that). I will see. But thanks for the feedback and info, and thanks for being okay with me playing with your toys! XD

Date: 29 Sep 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Yeah, what would a creep like him be wearing circa 1990? And did he last long enough for Yvonne Hartman to eventually poison him or something in the course of her inexorable rise to power? XD

So, circa 1990-92ish, British UNIT (The UN seem to love long unwieldy acronyms - if they founded UNIT in real life, they'd probably call it something like UNINTTFOR or something...) are unavailable?? Due to nasty incidents unknown? And then Bambera arrives say 1993-4ish to whip them back into shape? Just trying to get a timeline straight in my head...

Hmm, so there's at least one more Nat and Tilly story to be told, then? but you'll resist the urge to write it? :D But no, the Silurians thing sounds very interesting indeed, and I look forward to it when it eventually sees the light of day!

Aw, poor Nat... And poor Evered, but at least it would be kind of in the course of his job.

"Sir, we need another scientific advisor!" "Another one?! Be more careful with them in future, Sergeant!" "Yes sir!"

Probably... As I say, I'll look at it again and see what needs changing. I think it might end up being more about how 70s UNIT gave birth to Bambera-era UNIT than anything (I dunno, I just picture her as the "things are going to be a bit different around here from now on!" incoming boss, rubbing people up the wrong way all over the shop but not really caring about being popular as long as the job got done).

Date: 30 Sep 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Aw, well I'm just chuffed that you liked it! Thanks! :D

That makes a lot of sense, for TW and UNIT. The TW seen in Army of Ghosts/Doomsday didn't seem like a 130-year-old organisation to me - or at least not one that hadn't undergone some sort of massive reorganisation/rebuilding in the recent past, and yeah as I say it's hard to see how the EXTREMELY British Brig-UNIT got to be the slick, international Bambera-UNIT without something along similar lines happening.

So, the way I see it, due to something or other (either extreme failure in the field, or as you say deciding to take a lower profile and keep things more secret, or maybe just because the British government doesn't want to pay for it any more in the context of the post-Cold War "peace dividend"), UNIT as we know it has become more or less defunct. So Bambera comes in to put British UNIT back on its feet, including bringing in foreign UNIT troops etc... And Col Ashcombe is given the unenviable job of managing the handover as the most recent ex-CO who's still regarded well by the powers that be (it would have been the Brig, as ever, but Doris really dug her heels in that time!). That could work.

And then off to Camelot in Bessie, of course! :D

I think it makes sense for Bambera to have prior UNIT experience at a lower level - I sort of see her as having been seconded to UNIT for quite some time (horrible thing to say, but it's hard to see a woman getting where she seems to be c.1995 had she spent all her time in the ordinary army).

But yes, a lot of things about UNIT and their continuity don't make a lot of sense - all of the things you say, and then there's that Polish sergeant in Battlefield who appears to have personal recollections of both the Doctor and the Brig - because there were so many foreign troops knocking around in the Brig's day!

Sounds good - Nat's dad and Silurians sounds great actually. I look forward to it. And yes, I didn't think Nat was slated to keel over any time soon, but still it's all TW's fault, darn them!

Date: 1 Oct 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Yes, I just wonder what's going down in Peru to require his constant attention, really...

And yes. Yes, they are. More than you know (in my fanon, anyway! ;D)

Well, I feel like I own them *morally*...the BBC and RTD may disagree...but they're wrong. Clearly. ;D

Date: 2 Oct 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Yes, somewhere in the high Andes there are whole platoons of UNIT troops laying out marmalade sandwiches as bait, and then waiting...and waiting...

"either insanity, or stealing"

Yeah, that's about the size of it. ;D

Date: 3 Oct 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
He could be their new scientific advisor... ;D

Date: 30 Sep 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Yay! That's a great weight off my mind! :D

And - urrgh - you may well be right about that... O.o

Date: 1 Oct 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Oh yeah, he plays squash all right...and talks loudly on his mobile back in the days when it was still considered to be a sure sign of ****ishness... Oh yeah, I can see him now. Git. ;D

Date: 2 Oct 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
No, you have him! (We could go on doing this all night, pass the parcel style...) ;D

Well, I'm sure he does have some hidden depths...I just haven't thought of any yet...

Date: 3 Oct 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
I'd say the reason that he was a stereotype was because he was some sort of alien agent doing a not-entirely-competent job of "blending in"...but you've already done something like that... Still, it'd explain some things. :)

Date: 4 Oct 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jjpor.livejournal.com
Probably in their heyday, nearly every other Torchwood agent was some sort of alien mole, all unaware of each other and trying to act as "human" as possible to avoid detection... :D

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