By Castor (formerly known as Anon)
I ought to apologise for this, but I won't. I'm going to have enough trouble from these guys anyway. Joe will NOT want any of this, I assure you!
Sheridan rolled over and stared at the ceiling before quietly moving into the lounge, shutting the door behind him. Looking around he checked all was clear and then looked up.
'Psst!' he whispered.
'Psst! Author. I need a word with you.'
The Author (who was struggling with a paper that just would NOT come together) peered at her computer screen and leaned on her elbows.
'What do you want?'
'Oh, I WISH you wouldn't put it that way,' Sheridan sighed.
'Oh get over it. The Shadows have pissed off over the rim, together with the Vorlons. I can say whatever the hell I please.' Author decided the paper was probably a better bet and went to switch back.
'Hang on!' Sheridan whispered as loudly as he could, then he sighed. 'Could you just fix it so I can talk normally without waking Delenn up?'
'Right,' he said, clearing his throat and speaking in his normal voice. 'What's going on with you these days? I mean, you stopped dead on that other story you were writing.'
'I know, I know,' Author sighed. 'It's all Garibaldi's fault. He just won't TALK to me!'
'Last I heard you'd...' he suddenly lost his voice.
'Shut UP! I haven't posted that bit! I haven't finished it yet!'
'Mmmpphhh.' Author lifted the embargo on his mouth. 'Thanks. Sorry, wasn't thinking. So what are you doing in the meantime?'
'Working on a paper that seems to be rapidly turning into a Freudian playground. And I HATE Freud.'
'You wouldn't know it from some of the things you write.'
'Oh thank you VERY much!' Author snorted. 'Look, you wanted to talk, so talk. What did you want to talk to me about?'
'Well, a couple of things. I've got a few requests from the crew. They, uh, well, they nominated me their spokesperson.'
'Oh really?!' Sheridan shuddered. He didn't like the tone in Author's voice. 'And why YOU exactly?'
'Well, you killed off Corwin, so he's hiding in Chevron's Ductworld and says he's not coming out again. Zack knows you can't stand him, I can't find Garibaldi as you know. Ivanova is not convinced you're not going to do something absolutely hideous to her, and Delenn thought I'd have more authority.'
'And what makes them think I won't do something nasty to you, eh?'
Sheridan sighed. 'Look, we all KNOW you're gonna do something nasty to me sooner or later. So far I've been shot, telepathically probed by Bester, nearly had to shoot my best friend, damn near cooked in that time travelling holobooth you nicked from Trek, but so far you haven't actually killed me.'
'I might yet. Conspiracy Theory is an AU remember.'
'Oh, I remember. Delenn isn't letting me forget it. Have you ANY idea how pissed she is you put me with Ivanova?'
'Yeah. She's putting the dampers on her relationship with Lennier too,' Author sighed.
'Well, can you blame her? I mean, look at him! He hasn't changed since Lost in Space for crying out loud!' Sheridan went to pull down his top and then realised he wasn't wearing one. Or a bottom for that matter. 'HEY! Put that back! I LIKE my butt!'
'Better. Now how about some clothes? It's freezing in here.'
'I know,' Author chuckled.
'Clothes and turn the fragging heating up!'
'OK, OK. Jeez you're testy.'
Sheridan peered at the apparel he was now sporting. 'Now that is NOT funny. I said clothes! Not Trailer Trash Barbie!'
'Sorry. Warped mind right now.'
'So I noticed.' He winced as his uniform collar chafed him. 'Formal attire, huh? Fine. Now, about these requests.'
'All right. Let's hear them.'
Sheridan cleared his throat. 'First, Ivanova would like you to sort out the relationship between me and her in Conspiracy Theory. She reckons you're bottling out.'
'You'll have to talk to Delenn about that. She's the one who doesn't like it.'
'Hmph. OK, secondly, Corwin would like to know if there's going to be a formal funeral and what you were planning to do with his hand.'
'Not sure yet. I'll find a use for it. You never know when a small bomb might come in handy.'
Sheridan groaned. 'Low blow.'
'Ivanova wanted to say that ages ago. I had to fight her to keep her serious about the whole affair.'
'That woman has one SICK sense of humour.'
'Like Author, like character.'
'MY sense of humour isn't sick.'
'YOU seem to have a mind of your own.'
Sheridan grinned and Author turned down the brightness on the monitor so she didn't get blinded by the glare.
'Kosh wants to know if he'll be killed off in this story as well.'
Sheridan gaped. 'No? NO?! You're actually giving away a plot detail?'
'Hardly a detail. He's going to survive this one. I didn't like him getting killed off in the real B5 universe.'
'Um, look, you're not going to, well....you know. Put me with Kosh are you? I mean, Koona and Chevron do and I....um...' Sheridan licked his lips.
'Not that sort of universe. Ain't gonna happen.'
Two large coconuts appeared above his head. He looked up and threw himself out of the way just before they clattered down and smashed on the floor in slow motion. A semi-naked woman appeared slowly and sensuously unwrapping a chocolate bar.
'Knock it off. This isn't a commercial break!' The woman vanished. So did the coconuts. 'You could have left them. I haven't had fresh coconut in years.'
'I'll try to arrange it sometime.'
'OK. Let's cut to the chase here. The guys want to know when you're gonna be pumping something else out. We're getting bored in here.'
'There's Jobs for the Boys.'
'Ruth's writing that. You're just adding bits. Very twisted bits I might add.' Sheridan raised an eyebrow.
'I needed to blow off some steam.'
'So I noticed.'
'What about Memorex? I wrote that for you.'
'Hardly anyone LIKED that.'
'Hang on. I got a few nice comments. I just overdid it a bit on the history lesson.'
'And you HAD to be accurate, didn't you?'
'I'm a teacher for god's sake. Of COURSE I was accurate. Anyway, I LIKE Ancient Egypt. And you like the US Civil War.'
'Bruce likes the civil war. I only know what Joe told me to say.'
'Well, you like it now.'
'Don't you ever get fed up with manipulating us all like this?'
Sheridan suddenly found a load of strings attached to his knees, feet, shoulders, elbows, hands, arm and back and a cross shaped wooden frame appeared above his head. He jerked around for a few minutes doing a fair impersonation of Parker from Thunderbirds.
'KNOCK IT OFF!!!!!!!!'
The strings disappeared and a large mallet replaced them which belted his head clean off his shoulders. His body remained in place, the fists resting on its hips. A muffled voice came from the floor. 'Put me back together...Please.' The body walked over and picked up the head, firmly screwing it back into place...
'The right way round, IF you don't mind.' The hands put the head straight again. Sheridan turned his head from side to side to work out the kinks. 'I HATE it when you do that.'
'And you're not Kosh, so you can quit with that as well.'
'Look. Can't you just write SOMETHING for us? Something to keep us going until Garibaldi gets his head out of his butt and starts talking to us again?'
There was a muffled yell from outside the door and the chirp of the announce heralded someone's arrival. Sheridan went to the door and opened it. He stared, and then twisted his position to try and get a better angle.
'You know. I REALLY didn't think that position was humanly possible.'
Garibaldi held up a sign. 'It ISN'T!!!' it read. He dropped it and instantly replaced it with another one. 'Would you PLEASE get my head out of my BUTT!!!!!!!!!????????'
There was a loud pop. Garibaldi shook himself and glared at the Author. 'My chiropractor's bill is coming straight to you!'
A large rack appeared with a swarthy man wearing a hood standing beside it. Two others manhandled Garibaldi onto the rack and began cranking the wheel.
'All right! All right! I don't need a chiropractor! This is just fine. My back's feeling great. Get me off this thing.'
The rack disappeared and Garibaldi hung in space for a second before falling to the floor. He picked himself up, brushing down his clothes. 'Great. I'm in a Warners' cartoon,' he muttered.
A hole appeared in the floor and a rabbit poked his head up, chewing on a carrot. 'Eyyyyy, what's up doc?' A duck suddenly rushed into the room with a meat cleaver and took a swing at the rabbit. The latter promptly jumped above the swing, did a little turn in mid air, and shot out of the doorway, the duck in hot pursuit.
Sheridan turned to Garibaldi. 'You HAD to say that, didn't you?'
Garibaldi stared at his feet.
'Have you ANY idea what my day on duty is going to be like now you've said that?'
Garibaldi looked up. 'She wouldn't!'
'The mood she's in? She would.'
'Exactly. I might as well shoot myself now.' He looked up suddenly. 'Don't. Please, just don't!'
Author shrugged. A large shotgun clattered, inert, to the floor and vanished.
'Can I take it that THIS is the story you're going to be sending to the list next?'
'Might do. Depends on where it goes.'
'Well if you want my advice...' Garibaldi began.
'We DON'T!' Author and Sheridan yelled out together.
A call came through the Babcom unit. 'Captain. Have you been talking to the
'Then could you ask her what the hell is this ship that's just appeared outside? It looks like it's made of old Airfix modelling kits with some green plastic at one end and three pointed sharp bits at the other. It's vaguely reminiscent of one of the Drazi ships.'
Sheridan stared at Author. 'You didn't...?'
'I'm on my way!' Sheridan yelled and shot out of the room followed quickly by Garibaldi. For a few moments there was silence, then the doors to the bedroom opened and Delenn stepped out.
'Author? Are you there still?'
'I listened. There's not much I can do until you and Garibaldi sort yourselves out.'
'You know I REALLY don't like Susan sleeping with John.'
'I know, but this is an AU, Delenn. He's hardly going to leap into bed with the enemy, now is he? It HAS to be Susan. Anyway, I started it only because I wanted to get those two in bed together.'
'You could have included me!'
'I leave that to others. They're better at the choreography than I am. Anyway, I've never done female/female. I prefer to write sex scenes I know about.'
'You mean every time John and I....In ALL your stories????'
'Even at the waterfall?'
'Yep. But not at Niagara. Nice little pool up in the Cheviots.'
'I must meet your boyfriend some day!'
'Not a chance!'
'Where's John gone?'
'To deal with invaders from another SF universe.'
Delenn nodded. 'Should I get dressed?'
'Probably a good idea.'
'I'll be there in a minute.' She closed the bedroom doors. Author nipped over to C&C.
'We've got a landing pod coming in!' yelled Corwin.
'Hey!' said Author. 'I thought you were still hiding out in Chevron's Ductworld?'
'Oh shit! She's back! I'm outta here!' Corwin ran out of the room.
'Lieutenant! You can't abandon your post!' yelled Sheridan.
'Watch me!' the voice sailed back. There was a loud thump followed by a groan. Sheridan ran to the door and stared out.
'Hey! Where'd the rest of the station go?'
'It's just a set,' replied Author, calmly. 'I just wanted to know what would happen if he forgot that big step just outside C&C.'
Corwin groaned. 'Where the hell am I?'
'L.A. In a warehouse. The Zocalo is just in front of the blue sheet they've put up in front of the Window for C&C,' Author replied.
'Give me my god-damned station back NOW!' Sheridan yelled. The rest of the station reappeared. 'Thank you. Garibaldi. Head off those intruders.'
'Yes sir!' Garibaldi jogged off. He kept running for a while as the rest of the security force joined him. Then he slowed down and paused, hands on hips. 'Can we quit with the Hawaii 50 music please?' The sound stopped. 'Too many music videos,' Garibaldi muttered, shaking his head. 'They've twisted her mind.' He returned to his steady jog.
When he reached the place where the landing pod was due he waited as a large amount of hammering started on the other side.
'What the hell is going on?'
'Lower technology. They're trying to beat their way in.'
Garibaldi sat down on a crate and pulled out a pack of cards. 'Anyone up for a hand of poker while we're waiting?'
The bulkhead rivets suddenly gave way and a man leapt in with a studded black leather jacket, black boots and trousers, and a hair curler in his hand.
'Hands up!' he yelled.
Garibaldi looked at him. 'What, if I may ask, were you planning on doing with that? Give me a perm?'
'My name is Avon. I'm from the Liberator.'
'Avon? Isn't that some kind of cosmetics company?' Garibaldi asked Zack who'd suddenly appeared.
'Would explain the hair curler.'
'This is a gun!' Avon insisted, waving the hair curler menacingly.
Garibaldi pulled out his PPG and looked at it. 'Nah,' he said, his voice taking on an Australian accent. 'That's not a gun. THIS is a gun.' He pointed it just above Avon's head and fired. The bolt caused Avon's figure to shimmer slightly as it whizzed past. Avon shook his gun. Nothing happened. He stared at it.
'Does ANYONE know how you're supposed to actually fire these things?' he said.
'Say whoosh?' Garibaldi suggested helpfully.
'Nah. It was more of a vizz wasn't it?'
'No, that's ours. Actually, come to think of it, you've been off the air for so long I don't think anyone remembers what that thing sounds like.'
'We're seeking protection from the Federation,' Avon said, defeated. 'Can you help us?'
'The Minbari Federation?'
'No. Earth Federation.'
'We HAVE one?' Zack asked.
Garibaldi shrugged. 'Different SF universe.'
'Is Author in a funny mood?'
The rabbit appeared still being pursued by the duck. Garibaldi, Zack, Avon and the others watched as they rounded the corner then reappeared, the rabbit now wielding a gun and the duck running away. They disappeared around another corner and then appeared again, and this time the duck was wielding a semi-automatic rifle and the rabbit was running. This went on for some time and each time they disappeared they reappeared with a more powerful weapon. The characters observed for a while, their heads turning back and to as though they were watching a tennis match.
'Yep. She's in a VERY silly mood,' Garibaldi said at last. 'I guess I'd better stop this before Marvin the Martian turns up with his Acme planet destroying device.' He snagged the weapons off the two cartoon characters. 'Sorry. There's a 'no weapons' policy aboard Babylon 5.'
'Why, you're despicable!' the duck spat out.
'Go. Get out. Scoot!'
The rabbit and duck put their arms around each other's shoulders and wandered away. 'Do you think Daisy is doing anything right now?' asked the duck.
'You can't do that in the Disney universe!' the rabbit replied.
'Who said anything about doing it in HIS universe? I plan to make my own!' They disappeared around the corner.
Garibaldi shook his head. 'I am getting too old for this,' he muttered.
A group of highly coloured cartoon characters appeared, singing in Liverpuddlian accents with a full backing orchestra.
'When I get older, losing my hair....' The first one stopped and looked at Garibaldi who was eyeing him. 'Whoops. Sorry.'
The Beatles disappeared. Garibaldi sighed. 'I suppose we'd better go up to C&C and work out what's happening. You wanna join us?' he asked Avon.
'Might as well. Beats threatening people with hairdos.'
'Who do you think she's gonna hit us with next?' Zack asked.
'I DON'T want to know,' Garibaldi muttered.
When they reached C&C Sheridan was yelling. 'No I do NOT need 'I need a hero' blasting away out of every speaker. Turn it OFF!' The music finished to be replaced by the strains of Wonder Woman as Delenn appeared. Sheridan turned to Garibaldi.
'Did you get this too?' he asked.
'Author!' Delenn snapped, tapping her foot menacingly. The music switched to 'I want to Run to You' and Delenn leapt into Sheridan's arms. Garibaldi sighed.
'Very nice,' Sheridan murmured, finishing his kiss. 'Now could you turn that off as well?' The speakers went silent. 'Who's this?' he asked, staring at Avon.
'Some guy from a cosmetics company who wants to give you a perm,' Zack said cheerfully.
Avon growled. 'My name is Avon. I'm from the Liberator.'
'You mean you actually LIVE in that bit of plastic out there held up by strings?'
'YES!' he yelled, annoyed.
Sheridan stared out of the view port. 'Not any more you don't. Someone just stuck a sparkler and a firework up its ass.'
They all watched as the Liberator started to explode. The wire holding up one end snapped and it hung, burning for a moment, before the firework finally put it out of its misery.
'Oh great!' Avon muttered. 'How the hell am I supposed to fight the Federation now?'
'You are fighting us?' Delenn asked, still standing with Sheridan's arm around her. 'Why?'
'Not you! Earth!'
'Well, we're ALL fighting Earth.' Sheridan said.
'I thought we'd finished that a while back?' Garibaldi asked.
'Well in that case, what am I doing in this uniform? I'm supposed to be President of the Interstellar Alliance by now, aren't I?'
'It's an AU. Has to be.' Garibaldi looked out of the viewport. 'Only way to explain that!' He pointed at a cartoon rowboat which was being rowed away from the station by the duck and the rabbit as another ship, with the words 'Martian Maggot' emblazoned on its side, chased them towards the setting sun. They all stared.
'Since when did we have an horizon out there?' Sheridan said at last.
'Nice cloud effect.' Garibaldi offered.
'Red sky at night. It's gonna be a beautiful day tomorrow.' Zack mused.
'Excuse me!' came a female voice. Ivanova stepped forward. 'Why haven't *I* had anything to do in this lunacy?'
'Be grateful,' Sheridan muttered.
'You know,' said Marcus, appearing out of nowhere. 'I think when it comes to Author we should regard her the same as Entil'zha and try looking at everything she writes in a mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling.'
'Gniliec eht morf nwod edispu gnignah elihw rorrim a ni setirw ehs...' Ivanova shook her head and slowly lowered herself from the roof tiles. 'Nope. Still doesn't make any sense.' She stared at Marcus. 'I thought you were in the freezer?'
'Got bored. Anyway, my contract was up. I can do what I like now.'
'Not in this universe. Piss off.'
'Hmph! So much for my great sacrifice!' Marcus muttered, grabbing a cigarette and a pint of bitter. 'At least my poetry is appreciated by the convention audiences.'
'They've heard it all by now. Time you wrote some more.'
Marcus glanced at his watch. 'Whoops! Gotta run. I'm gonna be late for Starfury.' He dashed outside.
Delenn looked up at Sheridan. 'John. You can take your arm away now.'
'I can't. Author's glued it into position.'
Sheridan and the rest of the command staff looked up. 'Author. Is this going to stop any time soon? I mean, have we reached the end yet?'
A tall and heavily built man in a maintenance uniform appeared, heading for the shut-down switch in the corridor. Music started to stream from the speakers again.
'Does it bother anyone that the main control switch for the entire station is located right in the middle of the Zocalo?' Gairbaldi said at last.
'I suppose we ought to stop him,' Sheridan muttered. 'Author. Could I have my arm back please?' There was a loud sucking noise and he peeled his arm off Delenn. 'Thank you. JOE!' he yelled, running out into the corridor.
The maintenance man slowed and stared. 'What the hell are you doing here? You're supposed to have gone beyond the rim with Lorien!'
'Yeah, well THIS author decided differently.'
'Another author? In my universe? I HATE fan-fic authors!'
'Hey, don't knock it,' Garibaldi said, coming up behind them. 'At least they fill in the gaps in your story lines.'
'I don't LEAVE gaps,' Joe muttered.
'Oh no? How come Sheridan was shooting a guy in a security uniform one week and we were all buddy-buddy again the next, huh?'
'Yes,' said Delenn, joining them. 'And what happened to Lennier?'
'And how about me?' asked a redhead with an attitude. 'You shack me up with a guy who's about as convincing and empathetic as a road accident, then you send me off with G'kar, and the best anyone's got out of you so far is that I die. Thanks a heap!'
Garibaldi looked at Sheridan. 'I think she's pissed,' he said.
'Hmm. Massively,' Sheridan agreed. 'But I don't know why.'
Lyta slugged him. 'And THAT'S for being a total bastard to me for over a year after I saved your butts time and time again!'
'Hey, don't blame me!' Sheridan protested, rubbing his jaw. 'HE wrote it!'
Zack stepped forward. 'And where the hell did I get that limp in the last episode? I looked like I'd got a wooden leg or something. You never heard of advanced prosthetics?'
'And when did I turn THAT grey?' Franklin said as he strolled down the corridor.
'And how did Delenn and I end up as President of the Alliance, with his wife, in a cell on Centauri Prime? I mean, are we LIKELY to go off and risk our butts like that?' Sheridan growled menacingly. 'And how come I looked so good then and so shitty only three years later, hmm? Accelerated ageing?'
'In War Without End you saw yourself as you thought you would look. Not how you were,' Joe protested feebly.
'Don't give me that Quantum Leap crap. You need to get your continuity sorted out!'
The group converged on Joe. The music began to crescendo. He reached for the switch and threw it.
'Hey! That's supposed to shut down the station!' Joe protested.
'THIS author didn't go a bundle on your excuse for getting rid of the station either. Hazard to shipping lanes? Like several billion large pieces of metal flying off in all directions are going to be less of a hazard than one large piece everyone knows about.'
'It was too expensive to maintain! It was the cheapest of all the stations in the first place!' Joe cried.
'And you don't think, possibly, that the worlds of the Alliance might offer to keep the old place up as a historical site commemorating the founding of the Alliance...hmmm???? Can we say 'tourist trap'?'
'It's three days from anywhere. No one would come this far for a historical visit.'
A hologram appeared. Draal looked furious. 'I wasn't too wild about all those bits flying down on Epsilon Three either. Zathras spent ages picking it all up. Well, Zathras three through nine did. Zathras two was hit by the largest bit and killed. And what about The Great Machine, huh? All that build up and then it gets used once to send Babylon 4 back in time. After that, I might as well never have been. Oh, sorry, you used me as a signal boost for the Voice of the Resistance. THAT'S a bit of a comedown wouldn't you say?'
'So, in general, Mr Straczynski, sir. I'd say you left a few loose ends. Wouldn't you?' Sheridan said, menacingly.
'It'll be dealt with in the books.'
'I think the audience might have liked to actually SEE the stuff with David's keeper.'
'I wouldn't have minded actually seeing my son,' Delenn muttered.
'I was thinking of doing a feature film. Once the Star Wars stuff has died down,' Joe offered.
'Joe, it's gonna be at least six years, probably closer to ten before that dies down. We're not going to look our best. And I, for one, do NOT wish to wear a Shatneresque corset!' Sheridan yelled.
Joe took to his heels as the bulk of the crew flew after him brandishing various weapons. Sheridan pulled up quickly and watched the others disappear around a corner. He strolled back to the 'off' switch and pushed it back on again, then he looked up.
'You enjoyed that, didn't you?'
'It had its moments.'
'Have you quite finished this disaster now?'
'What does that mean?'
Sheridan suddenly found himself back in his quarters, in his pyjamas. A sound from the other side of the partition told him Delenn was in there.
'You are NOT going to do one of those 'it was all a dream' lines on me, are you?'
'No. But everything's back to normal.'
'And you're going to get on with Conspiracy Theory?'
'Just as soon as I know what to do with it.'
Sheridan sighed. 'Need any help?'
'If you want to put some suggestions in my dreams I'm not going to stop you,' Author hinted.
'If I'm to do that it would help if you actually went to bed at a reasonable time occasionally!'
'Ok, Ok. I just like hearing the dawn chorus.'
'You're word perfect, trust me. Go to bed.'
Sheridan slowly walked to the partition and slid it open.
'John. Come to bed. It's late. You'll need your rest for whatever Author is going to do to you tomorrow,' Delenn said.
Sheridan looked up. 'Could we, possibly, get one night without you watching us and writing down every word?' he pleaded.
Author smiled. 'All right. Just this once. Have fun.' The partition closed. 'Goodnight Delenn. Goodnight John.'
'Knock it off!' Sheridan growled. Author smiled and turned down the lights.
In the darkness a sound was heard.
'She's gonna post this, you know that don't you?'
'She can. They might like it.'
'They might skin her alive.'
'She'll be fine, John.' There was a pause. 'John?'
'Why are you wearing a pair of black briefs with the words 'Property of Babylon 5' crossed out and replaced with my name and the words 'Keep out!' written on them?'
Author giggled. 'Sorry guys. Have fun!'
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