Fandom: Doctor Who
Summary: The seventh Doctor writes a children's book.
Notes: I decided what a really wanted for my birthday this year was some humorous Who fic. So Liz obliged, and then I obliged myself.
Being An Illustrated Guide to the Enemies of Gallifrey
and Peculiar Dangers to the Race of Time Lords
I. Daleks - II. Autons - III. Cybermen - IV. Sontarans - V. temporal paradoxes - VI. Prydonians - VII. boring lectures - VIII. critical K-9 units - VIV. TARDISes - X. Humans
The first thing you should know about Daleks is that there’s a blobby bit inside the pepper pot, and it looks like the sort of thing you blow out your nose when you’ve got a cold.
A long time ago, Daleks were people just like you and me, which is to say that they had feelings and could be hurt and knew that it was wrong to hurt other people. They looked like us as well, but this does not signify because there are plenty of bipedal life forms in the universe that are not to be trusted. (See sections III, VI, and X.) But there was a terrible war on Skaro, which was the name of their planet, and after a lot of radiation poisoning and a little bit of genetic tinkering, they lost all of their love and pity and most of their common sense, until the only thing left in their scabby little brains was the desire to conquer, dominate, and destroy every other life form in the universe.
It is their inability to get along with everybody else that makes the Daleks evil, so remember that the next time you start to squabble with your little friends over who gets the last of the tea cakes.
Do you ever have bad dreams?
Have you ever had the one where you're lying in your bed, in the dark, and suddenly, from the corner of your eye, you see something moving?
You grow very still, your hearts beating loudly in your ears, and the room seems to grow very quiet. And then—there! You saw it again! On the bookshelf, by the window! Something is moving.
But you know that the only things on your bookshelf are your books, and perhaps an academic trophy, and a tiny plastic statue commemorating President Romana's inauguration. So you sit up, clutching your blanket close to your chest—and you look.
And suddenly, you realize that the statue is looking back—with red, glowing eyes.
Have you ever had that dream?
No, of course you haven't. You're all happy, healthy, well-adjusted children, raised by the finest childcare professionals on Gallifrey. You never had a nightmare in your life, I'm sure.
Which is why, if you ever do wake up in the middle of the night and find a plastic object in your room behaving strangely, you should be on your guard, because it is most probably an Auton, which is to say a murderous plastic device of limited intelligence and limitless malice.
(And if you do have nightmares, you needn't be ashamed of them. They are the particular curse of people with intelligence and imagination.)
The story of how the Cybermen came into existence is really a very sad one. One day, I hope you will look it up and read it for yourself, because it teaches us an important lesson about how well-meaning people can nonetheless do very foolish things that have disastrous and unforseen consequences. I’m not going to tell it to you here, because you’re very impressionable at this age, and the story is so sad that if you read it now you might remember it when you’re a grown up and if you ever come face to face with a Cyberman you must not waste any time feeling sorry for it. Cybermen are just as nasty and dangerous as the Daleks, only they move a bit more slowly, and if you see one the very first thing you should do is run away. The second thing you should do is find a bit of gold, because that’s the only thing that will pierce their armor.
I must tell you something else about the Cybermen and I am afraid you may find it a bit scary, but it’s very important. If the Cybermen catch you, they will turn you into one of them. Now, I’m sure that somewhere at the back of your mind, maybe you’re thinking that it would be a very fine thing to walk around in a suit of armor and be able to shoot things just by pointing your finger at them. But Cybermen have no feelings at all, and like the Daleks, they kill everything that isn’t like them. So if you became a Cyberman, you wouldn’t be able to show off your shiny new armor to your friends, because if you ever saw them again, you would find that you didn’t like them at all.
In fact, you would probably kill them. Which would be very sad indeed.
Now, if you see a Sontaran, the first thing you will probably do is laugh, because they look a bit funny. There’s a vegetable on Earth called a potato which you will probably have never seen but they are round, brown, and lumpy, and the Sontarans look just like them, only stuffed into shiny black suits.
However, if you ever saw former President Flavia, you will already know that even if something looks funny, it can still be dangerous. Sontarans live for just one thing, and that’s hurting anyone they don’t get along with—which happens to be everybody else in the universe. Their whole race is one large army, and they reproduce by cloning. They don’t bother to make any female Sontarans because they don’t think girls are good at fighting, which, if you ever seen President Romana in a temper, you will know to be very silly indeed.
The Sontaran’ only vulnerable spot is the probic vent at the back of their neck and if you jab something sharp into it, that will probably stop them. Coronic acid will also do the trick, if you happen to have any handy.
V. temporal paradoxes
A lesson well and truly learnt in childhood is worth twenty of the kind taught by misfortune or by rote later in life. (See sections VI and VII.) That is why I am going to tell you something now that you will hear over and over again from other people as you grow older.
We are Time Lords, which means just what it says on the tin: we lord it over the Time Vortex and any other races presumptuous enough to aspire to control of time travel technology.
How very grand, you may be thinking. An infinite playground the size of all time and space, belonging to ourselves alone. Well, that's just the sort of imperialistic nonsense one expects from children, and is acceptable to a point when the territory at stake is no larger than the sandbox you're meant to be sharing with the Time Tot next door. But it isn't nice when you're all grown up and wearing a fancy headdress, so STOP IT NOW.
Or I'll stop you later.
In a few years, it will be time for you to begin your formal education as a Time Lord or Time Lady, and you (or rather, the people who make all your other decisions for you) will have to choose between the several Academies of Gallifrey.
I'm afraid it doesn't really matter where you end up going. They're all pretty much alike—bastions of assimilation, moribund and morose, where having a personality or an original thought will only get you into trouble. If you want to do any actual learning, you'll have to sneak it in on the side. But then, it's getting to be like that everywhere in the universe these days.
I will, however, put in a word for the Prydonian Academy, where I matriculated in an earlier life. Not because it's any better than the rest, but because if you're clever, there's a way to get into the kitchens after closing.
You'll have to figure it out for yourself though. There are some traditions not even I would dream of dishonoring.
VII. boring lectures
There is nothing worse in the world than a boring lecture.
People lecture for two reasons: either because they have very important information that you need to know and remember, or because they are pompous windbags who are far too fond of the sound of their own voices.
Occasionally, they are both.
The peculiar danger of boring lectures is that at first all you hear is the drone of another person's voice, and it takes a great deal of concentration to get past being sleepy and find out whether anything important is being said.
It is usually a good idea to pay attention, if you possibly can, even if the boring lecturer is one of the second kind, because very often a stupid person will tell you a great deal more than they realize they are telling you, especially if they too have been hypnotized by the drone of their expostulations. This is especially true when the boring lecturer is also evil.
Unfortunately, the corollary to this principle is that several Time Lords have turned to careers in evil simply because plotting fiendish schemes was the only way they knew to relieve the tedium of their Academy lectures.
I wouldn't recommend their methods, but there is no doubt that they were effective.
VIII. critical K-9 units
Generally speaking, a K-9 unit is a useful and reliable confederate in any Time Lord's intergalactic travels.
However, it is only fair to warn you that unless they receive regular maintenance, K-9 units have been known to malfunction in specific and highly irritating ways. Their sarcasm circuits tend to overload, and they have a distressing tendency to issue unsolicited fashion advice.
It has also been rumored that they will abandon you for the first pretty girl who promises to update their circuitry occasionally, but I wouldn't rely on that if I were you.
I can't say anything in praise of the TARDIS, that most ubiquitous symbol of Gallifreyan achievement, than has already been said by others, so I won't even try.
However, before you become too excited by the new law lowering the minimum piloting license age to 65, I feel I should warn you that the TARDIS has its flaws.
Jealousy, for example. If you acquire any traveling companions along the way, it's best to introduce them to the TARDIS immediately—politely, with a proper apology for inconveniencing her. The reasons for this safeguard will become more apparent the first time she "accidentally" jettisons a room that you or your companion happen to spend a lot of time in.
On the same note, do encourage your companions to keep their rooms tidy. I'm sure you wouldn't like it very much if someone walked up as you were reading a nice book and suddenly buried you underneath a load of dirty underpants.
This has never happened to me, but I have it on good authority that it's highly disconcerting.
Human beings are among the most infuriating, inconsistent, destructive, courageous, bewildering species in the known universe and nobody has the faintest idea how they happened or why.
If you ever happen to travel to Earth, you will notice that they all seem to move very fast, rushing about from one place to the next. This is a direct result of their relationship with time, which is difficult for a Time Lord to understand. You see, human beings have only existed for about four or five seconds, in terms of their planet's evolution, and their individual life spans are so short besides that it's really remarkable they've managed to make any sort of technological innovations at all.
Not that they've made many.
However, for such a primitive species, they have the most enormous imaginations—so that even a Time Lord, provided he employs some discretion and a little tact, can easily befriend them and introduce them to the glories of the wider universe. The typical human responds with a gratifying sense of wonder, though in my opinion there is something defective in the adventuring spirit of those from the continent of Australia.
I would be remiss, though, if I didn't warn you that human beings are rather fragile, and that the time we command is like a poison to them. They can spend their entire life with you, and you might still end up feeling you barely knew them at all.
In fact, if you spend much time with humans, you are quite apt to have your hearts broken.