Traveler's Halt

by Jacob Clifton June 30, 2009
The Next Doctor

The Doctor wonders how it is, that John Smith's so inured to talk of Cybermen from the stars. He doesn't even blink. "Ah! Don't blink, remember that? Whatever you do, don't blink? The blinking? And the statues? And Sally and the angels? No?" They are odd men. John Smith is an odd man, and in the future will be an odd man still. The Doctor suddenly jumps, afraid of compounding Rosita's displeasure: "The funeral's at two o'clock!" He bows graciously to John Smith, and reminds him not to breathe a word.

"Aw, can't I come with you?" John Smith begs; he has no question of doing anything else, but it's a chance to keep working on this new problem. "Far too dangerous," the Doctor shakes his head. "Rest assured, I shall keep this city safe!" Running away, he turns back. "Oh, and, er... Merry Christmas, Mr. Smith." Mr. Smith wishes the Doctor a Merry Christmas in turn, and when the Doctor runs he follows after, to make good on it.

Oh, wondrous steampunk Cyberfactory done right. Steampunk has lost its meaning: you get either generic fantasy -- or delightful New Weird, if you're lucky -- wearing steampunk clothing, or those damnable codebreaking pirates that dorks are now dressing like. The usual trickledown, but still a little embarrassing for everybody. Cyber Leader comes in with his domino face and discusses with his compatriots how "Cybershade 16" has made contact with the Doctor: "This man is dangerous. This man is our enemy. This man is the Doctor." Even the baddies are letting John Smith off the hook this Christmas.

Cyber Leader walks through the Cybermen toward a lovely dark woman. "Plans for the Ascension demand a successful intervention. Is everything in position?" She quirks a smile at him. (Her face is all planes and lines, beautiful and cruel. She's been in London Town her whole life, and paid the price for not giving in to that engine of blood. Too pretty for a mudlark, too smart for a wife. Her story is long and ugly, and best left between the lines. Suffice to say it started when she was young, and never really ended. Suffice to say her imagination and intellect have been warped by the status quo the Cybermen will overturn; the status quo of Victorian Christmas sing-along's, yes, but also of, and entirely supported by, mudlarks and slatterns and the madness of cities. Like any terrorist, her grievance is sound: it's her methods that are unacceptable.)

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