When Worlds Collide -- REALLY Collide
“And here we are! Heart Palace!”
The group stared up at the huge castle looming over them, all done in garish pinks and whites. “Yikes,” Jennifer Six mumbled. “They certainly know how to make an impression.”
“I don’t remember this from the book,” Doc Five said, tilting his head to examine the castle from another angle.
“Well, we’re not precisely the Wonderland of the books,” Clara Alice said, leading the way to the front door. “We seem to have bits and pieces from all sorts of other Wonderlands thrown in. Not to mention I doubt the book version of the Hatter is named Emmett, or the Cheshire Cat Lorraine.”
“How do you know about the other Wonderlands, anyway?” Allyson asked, giving Clara Alice a puzzled frown. “I mean, if you’ve lived here all your life, wouldn’t this just be – home?”
“Well, I started out as a visitor, though I’ve made my home here permanently now,” Clara Alice said. “But as for knowing about the other Wonderlands, Emmett told us all about them.”
“And how does he know?”
“He’s seen beyond our world,” Lorraine-Cheshire said, flicking her tail as she padded beside Clara Alice. “If you think this place is mad, you should see the world where he spends a good portion of his time.”
“Does this have anything to do with this ‘Vicky’ person you mentioned before?” Doc Six asked, the tentacles winding around him curiously.
“Yes, actually,” Clara Alice nodded. “We’ll explain it to you in a bit. Hopefully we can find Emmett before then, he’s a bit better than I am at this.” She rapped smartly on the door.
A playing-card man opened it, looking rather out of sorts. “Are you with the previous group then?” he asked immediately, shaking his head. “I hope you are, because otherwise you’re going to be beheaded.”
“Yes,” Doc One said quickly, forcing a smile. “We are. We got separated, and we’ve been looking for our companions for quite a while.”
“Then you’d best come in and join them,” the card said. “The fuss that’s going on now is terrific.” He tilted his head. “You look much like the Hatter.”
“We’ve heard,” Doc Four said, deadpan.
The card shook his head again and cleared the door for them. “That other fellow looked like the Hatter too,” he said conversationally as they came in. “Only his eyes were all wrong. Hard as the Knave of Clubs, they are. But he looks much like you – are you all brothers?”
A sudden chill made its way down the Docs’ spines. “Um, in a sense,” Doc Ten said, voice shaking slightly. “This other fellow – he didn’t happen to have a large group of teenage boys with him, did he?”
“Yes, yes he did! All practically identical! Said he needed to stow them somewhere, some sort of scheme – I hate schemes, they do terrible things to the carpets. But it was odd, they looked like the White Rabbit if he were – where are you going?!”
The Docs dashed down the hall, heedless of the card’s cries. “Shit! He’s here! And he’s still got our Martys!” Doc Ten yelled, leading the pack.
“You don’t think she could be helping them, do you?” Doc Five asked. “I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve read the books – I know the Queen of Hearts is an irascible bitch, but even she wouldn’t--”
“You can never tell,” Doc Four muttered darkly. “It all depends on which rabbit hole we went down.”
“Wait! Wait!” Clara Alice called, trying to keep up with them. The other Claras and Jennifers tagged along behind. “You can’t just run off like that, you’ll get lost!”
“Unless you don’t particularly care where it is you get to,” Lorraine-Cheshire qualified, suddenly appearing before them and forcing them to skid to a halt. “Then by all means, run around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
“All right, all right,” Doc Six said, the tentacles screeking. “Where is it we want to get to? Where would be the best place to find the Queen or the Martys or even Jack?”
“The main hall would be a good place to start,” Clara Alice gasped, finally catching up to them. She took a minute to catch her breath. “Here, follow me, it should be right down here. . . .”
After a few minutes of walking down bright pink hallways adorned with many hearts, they reached a huge, almost ballroom-like area. The floor was done in white marble, while the walls were the same ghastly pink they’d been seeing for a while. Two large staircases swept up to a small balcony overlooking the whole thing. And right in front of them was a large woman in a lurid pink and purple dress and a large golden crown, waving a heart-shaped fan as she talked to – “JACK!” Doc Ten yelled, advancing a few steps.
The woman spun around, scowling. “Who let you in? Who allowed you to tarnish my pretty floors with your feet? Off with their heads!”
Doc Ten just gaped uselessly for a moment, taken completely by surprise by the Queen’s appearance. “Biff?” he finally managed, voice a near squeak.
“That’s Queen Biffica to you! Where is your hat so you can take it off in my presence?”
“Ah – uh--”
“Speak up! Or I’ll have you executed as sure as ferrets are ferrets!”
“My dear Queen, I do believe I can handle this,” Jack said, smiling as he stepped out from behind her. “Hello dearest brother. Miss me?”
Doc Ten forced his mind to get back on track. “Where are they?” he demanded scanning the room. Apart from Jack and – Queen Biffica – he only saw his own (also stunned) counterparts, Amina, Sandy, Biff, Stanley (now tied up and looking a lot worse for wear), and Andrew. “What have you done with them?”
“Stored them in a safe place,” Jack replied, smirking. “They’re all still alive, don’t worry. For now.”
“We want to know where they are,” Doc Four growled, eyes lightening a bit.
“So demanding! That gets your head cut off here.”
“Damn straight!” the Queen said, gesturing wildly with her fan. “That one has too many extra appendages – off with his head!”
“Don’t you touch our father!” Albert yelled, as the other tentacles hissed.
“I’ll touch him any way I want!”
A moment of silence. “Ewww, we did not need that image,” Verne said, making a gagging sound.
“Neither did I,” the Queen admitted, looking faintly ill. “Off with your heads for making me think of it!”
“You’ve adapted quite well to Wonderland, I see,” Doc Eight said coldly, glaring at Jack.
“It’s not so hard, once you get over the initial shock,” Jack admitted, crossing his arms. “And the Queen here has been wonderfully helpful.” He gave the Queen a simpering smile. “Wonderland couldn’t ask for a better monarch.”
“Why thank you,” the Queen cooed, fluttering her eyelashes at him.
Doc Ten felt like he was about to throw up. “We want to know where the Martys are,” he said, gritting his teeth.
“People want a lot of things,” Sandy said, checking her gun. “Me, I want to see the entire vampire race wiped off the earth. Do you think I’ll get it?”
“What you want and what we want are entirely different things,” Doc Two retorted. “We want to see our best friends safe and sound – you want to start a genocide!”
“Like I said, people want a lot of things.”
“Face it, Brown, we’re not giving them up,” Biff added, pointing his own gun at them. “We wanna see you stew for a while.”
“You’ve been seeing us stew for hours now,” Doc Four retorted coldly. “Or is forcing us to chase you all over every reality known to man not enough for you?”
“No,” Jack said, smirking. “I want to see you suffer even more. By the end of today, I want you all to be an absolute broken wreck of a man.”
“We outnumber you, Jack,” Doc Ten said, his hands clenching into fists.
“Yes, but my compatriots and I are rather well-armed.”
“No, he’s well-armed,” Queen Biffica corrected, pointing at Doc Six. “You just have a lot of weapons.”
“That’s what well-armed means,” Sandy said, giving her a weird look.
“No it doesn’t! Off with your head!”
“Please, Your Highness, they’re awful people. They’re going to be after your messenger soon!” Clara Alice pleaded, worry clear in her voice.
“Oh, they can have my messenger. Always running off someplace, never on time. . . . I should have him executed. I should have them all executed!”
“For what?” Doc Seven demanded, eyes beginning to narrow.
“I don’t need a reason! Queens never do!”
“Yes, but it helps us--”
“Who cares about you common folk? Off with your heads!”
“Is that the only sentence you can say!” Jennifer Five said, throwing up her hands in frustration.
“You’ve heard me say other sentences, so I would think not! But it is a favorite of mine, I will admit that.”
“I say we split up and search the building,” Doc Three suggested.
“You’ll do no such thing!” Queen Biffica yelled. “This is my castle, and what I say goes!”
“Oh, could you really catch all of us?” Jennifer Three snapped, looking ready to run to one of the exits.
In response, Queen Biffica clapped her hands twice. Near instantly, the room was ringed by card people, all of the heart suit. Most of them bore resemblances to various members of Biff’s, Griff’s, and Buford’s gangs, and all of them were scowling and holding large staves with pointed upside-down hearts on the end. “I do believe I could,” the Queen said smugly as the group stared at the soldiers.
“They’re cards. We can still overpower them,” Doc Two said, glaring at the ones nearest to him.
“Actually, I should warn you that these are the Queen’s elite guard, and those staves they carry are capable of shooting rather nasty projectiles,” Lorraine-Cheshire told him, hissing at one near her.
“That’s right!” Queen Biffica nodded. “These are my own personal bodyguards! Make one wrong move, and they’ll drag you off to the dungeon! And then you’ll be executed!”
“Perfect, just perfect,” Jennifer Eight groaned.
“And I suppose there’s no room for negotiation on this,” Doc Eight said, sighing deeply.
“None! None whatsoever! For I am the Queen, and thus, am always right!”
“Do you have that in writing?” Allysin said, folding her arms and tapping her mallet against her leg.
“. . . I should! I shall get it in writing before the day is out! It shall be printed in large letters, and be gilded!”
“It is!” The Queen glared at all and sundry. “Do you dare mock me?! The punishment for that is a beheading!”
“Is the punishment for everything a beheading?” J.C. asked. “I’m not making fun of you, I’m actually genuinely curious.”
“Certainly not. The punishment for standing on your head in my presence is having your feet cut off.”
“. . . That makes a weird sort of sense.”
“It does?!” The Queen looked horrified. “It’s being pelted with strawberry tarts then!”
“I hardly think that’s a punishment, Your Highness,” Lorraine-Cheshire commented, flicking her tail lazily. “You guard yours so jealousy the sentence would never be carried out.”
“It would so! Off with your head! And don’t disappear your body this time!”
“Look,” Doc Nine said, his temper running short, “we are in the middle of a very serious situation here. So if you could stop ordering everyone beheaded for five seconds so we could talk to these assholes here--”
“I will not! You don’t get to order me around! I am the Queen, and what I say goes!” The Queen paced the room for a moment. “I am intelligent! I am cultured! I am wonderful! I am all-around perfect!” She stopped in the middle and raised her fan high. “And if I’m not, may I be struck down where I stand!”
It happened so fast that no one really had time to process it. It seemed like one moment, they were all just staring at the Queen – then, out of nowhere, something large and rectangular smashed through the balcony railing and crashed right where Biffica was standing. There was the sound of shattering china, smashing wood, and a few yelps of pain and surprise. Splinters of wood and pieces of cups and plates flew everywhere. Then, just like that, all was still again, save for the pile of bruised and battered bodies in the middle of the floor, and the remains of what looked like a tea table on wheels. A large purple top hat with a red band came rolling out of the wreckage, coming to rest at Jack’s feet. Everyone looked it for a long moment. Then, finally, J.C. said, “She really should have known better than to tempt fate like that.”
“What – the – hell?” Allysin said, arching an eyebrow.
There was a “ka-chunk” from somewhere inside the wreckage. “I got it,” a disturbingly familiar voice said weakly.
“More of you people?” Biff said, slapping a hand to his forehead. “Jesus Christ, isn’t ten enough?!”
Apparently it wasn’t, as another Doc sat up, glaring down at someone else in the pile. “‘Works fine,’ you said. ‘Of course it has brakes,’ you said,” he grumbled, rubbing the back of his head.
“It does and it did!” The owner of the original voice pulled himself up out of the wreckage. The first group noted with a little mild surprise that this one appeared to be their 1955, 35-year-old self as opposed to the more common 60-something version. “I don’t know why it jammed!”
“I bet I do,” a third Doc voice said. “And I bet it has something to do with jam!”
The 35-year-old Doc scowled. “The way I maintain my machines is perfectly legitimate!”
“Yeah, for a crazy person,” yet another Doc voice muttered. Moments later, the owner appeared, brushing splinters out of his hair.
He was the spitting-image of Doc Seven, a. k. a. Emmett. The other Docs stared between the two. The resemblance was near-perfect – even the clothes looked similar, though this newcomer was wearing different colors. The only real difference seemed to be that this one could speak English. Doc Seven, for his part, gaped at his doppleganger. “What the--”
The other Docs hadn’t noticed their counterparts yet, too busy arguing with each other. The 35-year-old Doc gave the younger Doc a look. “Yes, figures you’d be the one to say that.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Clara Alice had been watching the scene frozen, hands clapped over her mouth. All of a sudden, she came back to life, rushing toward the wreckage. “Emmett! Are you all right?”
“Clarabelle!” The Doc in question – the first set now supposed he must be the Hatter version they’d heard about previously – stood up, smiling. “We’re fine, dear. Just a few bumps and bruises.” He looked down and winced. “Though I don’t think the tea table will ever be the same.”
“We’re lucky we’re not like the tea table,” another Doc commented, rubbing his head as he sat up. “A fall like that really should have resulted in broken bones for some of us. What in the name of Sir Isaac H. Newton did we land on?”
“OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!”
There was almost an explosion of Docs as they scrambled to get off the fallen monarch. In the midst of the chaos, there was a sudden yelp! “Ouch! Which one of you stepped on my tail?”
“Tail?” Doc Six repeated weakly.
He didn’t have long to wonder at the statement, however, as shortly after what appeared to be a large, white, bipedal wolf with a familiar haircut and brown eyes staggered backward. Followed shortly by what appeared to be another Doc Six! “Sorry, that was probably us,” he said, the tentacles chattering apologetically. “Everyone present and accounted for?”
“I think so,” what looked like another Doc Four said, glancing around, then down in disgust. “Ugh, we had to land on her. . . .”
Queen Biffica struggled out from the remains of the tea table, crown bent and shoved half over her face and fan broken. “You insolent fools!” she raged, waving her arms as she tried to straighten her crown. “I’ll have more than your heads for this! I’ll have all your vital organs! And then I’ll – I’ll--”
She suddenly stopped, staring at Hatter Doc with an odd expression. “What?” Hatter Doc said, frowning.
“I never knew you were blond,” Queen Biffica said, tilting her head.
“I beg your--”
Something seemed to click in Hatter Doc’s head. He patted his scalp, eyes widening. “My hat. . . Great Scott, where’s my hat?!”
He dove back into the wreckage, shattered china and splinters of wood flying. “I know I had it! I know I did!”
“Calm down, it probably fell off when we crashed!” the Doc Seven clone said, looking around.
“But I need that hat! It’s my hat!”
Jack leaned down and picked up the hat resting by his feet. He studied it for a moment, then glanced up. “This hat?” he said, trying to keep his tone casual.
“What?” Hatter Doc looked up. “Oh, yes!” He sprang back to his feet, bouncing over with a smile. “If you could just--”
He stopped for a moment, registering who he was looking at. He tilted his head at the group of baddies, frowning. Then he shook his head. “Can wait until I’ve retrieved my haberdashery,” he said. He held out a hand and smiled again. “If you could just hand it over?”
“What the – what are they doing here?” one of the other Docs said, as they managed to pull their gazes from the wreckage of the tea table and Queen Biffica.
“That’s a long and complicated story,” Clara Alice admitted, glancing over her shoulder at the first group of Docs.
Jack looked at Hatter Doc for a moment, then smirked. “Now, why would I do that?” he said, pulling the hat closer to his body.
Hatter Doc’s smile faltered. “Because it’s my hat.”
“But if I want to keep it?” Jack ran his fingers along the inside of the brim. “After all, it’s a very nice-looking – OW!” He jerked his fingers out of the hat, staring into it with a half-annoyed, half-baffled expression. “Did something just bite me?”
“Bite?” Hatter Doc managed to pull the hat free of Jack’s grip and peered inside. “What the – now how did you get in there?” he demanded, frowning at something.
A weird honking noise answered him. Hatter Doc scowled. “Well, you certainly can’t stay in there,” he snapped, reaching his arm inside the hat – up to his shoulder. “Come on, now, you – gotcha!” He yanked out his arm, pulling free –
A FULL-GROWN FLAMINGO. It honked again and gave him a dirty look as he extracted it fully from the top hat. “Don’t give me that look!” he yelled at it. “I didn’t invite you to stay in there! Nor would I! Your Majesty, I do believe this belongs to you,” he added, glancing back at Queen Biffica.
“Theft of croquet mallets! Off with his head!” Queen Biffica yelled, finally getting her crown to sit right again. HatterDoc just rolled his eyes and let the flamingo loose. It promptly took off, shoving its way through some card guards to disappear down a hall.
“I’m not seeing this,” Doc Two muttered, eyes about to fall out of his head. “I’m simply not seeing this.”
That caught one of the other Doc Six’s tentacles’ attention. It turned to look behind him curiously – then let out a screek of surprise and started rapidly jabbing the other Doc Six in the ribcage. “Ow! Tommy, what on earth--” he said, starting to turn around.
And then stopped dead as he beheld the group of Docs. “Great Scott,” he breathed, eyes wide.
“What is it?” the wolf Doc asked, eying the group of bad guys in puzzlement.
“Well – it appears we’re here as well.”
“What?” The other Docs turned around, only for their jaws to drop when they saw their other selves. “Great Scott!”
“I didn’t do it,” the Doc Seven clone promptly said, looking nervous.
“We weren’t going to blame you for this,” another Doc said, frowning at him. “Unless you have discovered cloning in your spare time.”
“This is rather peculiar,” a Doc who looked like Doc Four commented, frowning. “And you know it has to be strange if we’re commenting on it.”
“I’d ask who you all are, but I don’t know if that would get us anywhere,” Doc Nine commented, tilting his head as steam hissed out his back.
One of the other Docs – now that he had a chance to count, he could see there were eight of them altogether – glanced over at him, then suddenly grinned. “Clockwork! I didn’t know you were – wait. . . .” The smile changed into a frown. “I don’t – that’s a Victor, but it’s definitely not DG.”
“There’s another one of me here?”
Victor’s head snapped to the side – to see what looked like himself. The same dead pale skin, the same black hair and eyes. . . . Only the clothes were different – the other Victor was wearing a suit, but his looked a lot more old-fashioned, like something out of the 19th century. Victor felt a little dizzy as he looked at his other self. “Oh God. . . .”
The other Victor blushed and turned away a bit. “I’m s-sorry, I forgot it’s s-sometimes a bit – odd for someone else t-to see themselves like this.”
“It’s – all right,” Victor said weakly, taking a few deep breaths to help steady himself. There was just something inherently wrong about seeing another you that wasn’t a reflection in the mirror (or a fetch, but fetches were an entirely different category of wrongness). “You – you’re T-Tie-Twister, then?”
The other Victor looked back, surprised. “Er, yes. How’d you know?”
“I called him that when I first found him,” Clara Alice said, chewing her finger briefly. “When I thought they were you. Though I quickly learned my mistake when I realized my Emmett wasn’t there. Nor RolePlay or DocWolf.”
“RolePlay?” Doc Three repeated.
One of the Docs raised his hand. He bore a marked resemblance to Doc Ten, though he didn’t appear to have a rejuvenation at any point. “That’s me. We’ve all got nicknames to distinguish each other.” He paused. “Um – how have you been doing it?”
“Numbering system,” Doc One said, shaking his head. “I don’t understand. Where did you all come from? Shouldn’t there only be one version of us in this reality? Him?” He pointed at Hatter Doc.
“We were about to ask you the same question,” the wolf Doc – DocWolf – said, wrinkling his snout. “Or something similar. Why do half of you look like--”
Something suddenly seemed to click in the bipedal wolf’s head. “Oh my God – I think they’re the story versions!”
“What?” said the Doc who looked like Doc Six. “You seriously think--”
“It’s the best explanation, isn’t it? Granted, I have no idea how they all got here. . . .”
“And it does take into account why they have all the various wives we’ve collected with them,” said the Doc who looked like Doc Two. “Not to mention the Jennifers – and Fred and Allysin!”
“The Multifandom Motley? She never actually wrote them!” the Doc Seven clone protested.
“Actually, she did – a couple of the Drabbles88s are about them, remember?” DocWolf corrected.
“Oh, right. . . .”
“How do you know our names?” Fred demanded, starting to look a little pissed. “And how come a bunch of you look like the Docs here?”
“Yes, what’s all this about story versions?” Doc Four said, folding his arms.
There was a moment of silence as the eight new Docs and Tie-Twister Victor looked at each other. “All right, how the hell do we begin to explain this?” the Doc Six clone said, his tentacles cheeping.
“The general format is to start at the beginning, and when you reach the end, stop,” Hatter Doc remarked. He threw the group a smile. “May I offer you a cup of tea? To calm the nerves?”
“We’re good,” Jennifer Five said, holding up a hand. “Our nerves aren’t going to be calm anytime soon.”
“You know what I mean,” the other Doc Six said, rolling his eyes. “It’s not every day you have to tell people something like this.”
“Something like what?” Clara Three demanded.
There was a collective sigh from the eight Docs. “Well, let’s start with the main thing – you’re all fictional,” the Doc Ten clone said.
“Actually, we knew that already,” Doc Ten himself admitted after an awkward pause.
“What – wait a minute,” the Doc Ten clone said thoughtfully. “That’s right, you’d have to be after the incident with the Clock Tower and what passes for regular reality.”
“You forgot your own history?” the Doc Seven clone ribbed him, smirking.
“Well, she hasn’t written any of it in a while! And it’s not something I usually think about, given I mostly experience it second-hand. . . .”
“What are you talking about?” Mystie demanded. “And who’s ‘she?’”
“Do you remember that ‘Vicky’ I mentioned before? The one I mistook J.C. for?” Clara Alice said, blushing. “That’s ‘she.’”
“All right, but what’s this about her – writing stuff?” Allysin said, arching an eyebrow.
“Well – he’s told you all about how you’re characters from a movie trilogy, right? Back To The Future?” Everyone nodded. “Well, things aren’t over when the movie ends and the theater is emptied. There’s this thing called ‘fan fiction’ – perhaps you’ve heard of it, perhaps you haven’t. It’s, in its most basic form, fiction written by fans of a certain piece of entertainment using the characters, either in their original setting or in any number of ‘alternate universes.’ Vicky’s one of these writers.” The Doc Ten clone blushed. “And, er – you’re the result of said writing.”
“. . . . What.”
“I know, it’s hard to comprehend,” the Doc Four clone said. “But it’s unfortunately the truth. Your lives are dictated by a fangirl with a gel pen and an empty notebook, and later a keyboard and computer screen.”
“But – what about you guys?” Jennifer Six said, obviously having a hard time wrapping her mind around all of this. “How come some of you look exactly like the other Docs?”
“We’re what’s known as ‘muses,’” RolePlay Doc tried to explain. “We’re essentially alternate versions of some of these characters, who are in charge of making sure she writes for the appropriate universes.”
“We saw no fuzzy Docs in our travels,” Jennifer Seven said, eyeing DocWolf.
“Not all of us are from fanfic universes – I’m basically a concept she thought was interesting,” DocWolf said, tail flicking from side to side.
“So who are all of you?” Doc Four said, scratching his head. “Can you give us any names?”
“Oh, yes – we all have nicknames so we don’t get confused,” the Doc Ten clone said. “Granted, I’m usually just known as ‘Doc’ myself, but that’s because I’m sort of the oldest – I’m NonTrilogy, or NoTril.”
“VampDoc,” said the one who looked like Doc Two.
“VampDoc2,” said the one who looked like Doc Four.
“Not very creative, is it?” Doc Four commented.
“No, but given the alternative might have been Asylum Doc. . . .”
“I’m DocWolf, as you already know,” DocWolf said, scratching an itch behind his ear. “I’m in charge of plotbunny control – that’s what they call random ideas that pop into their head,” he clarified at the others’ puzzled looks.
“I’m TeenDoc,” the Doc Seven clone said with a wave.
“How come you can speak English?” Jennifer Five asked.
TeenDoc blinked. “Er – because I’ve always spoken English?”
“Yeah, but if you’re supposed to be him, shouldn’t you speak German?”
“Oh, that,” VampDoc said. “It’s a bit complicated, but the simple explanation is that the comic he’s partially based off of – ‘Girl Genius’ – is written in English. German was just what everyone decided the characters should be speaking.”
“Plus the author only knows the most basic German words and phrases,” TeenDoc added. “And a couple of nasty insults, though nobody’s told me why. . . .”
“Moving on, I’m OckDoc,” the Doc Six clone quickly spoke up. “And I’m sure you all know Jules, Verne, Albert, and Tommy.” The tentacles nodded.
“I’m RolePlay Doc – I handle things other than fanfiction,” RolePlay Doc nodded.
“I’m Hatter Doc,” Hatter Doc introduced himself proudly. “I’m in charge of making sure things don’t get too serious around here.”
“A task at which he excels,” NoTril Doc commented.
“And I’m Tie-Twister Victor,” Tie-Twister Victor offered up with a bit of a shy smile. “I’m essentially in charge of any fanfiction that isn’t BTTF-related.”
“How does that work?” Allysin asked, pursing her lips a bit. “We know Victor.”
The muses looked at each other again. “There’s something called ‘crossovers’ you ought to know about,” VampDoc started.
“Hey! Excuse us! People with guns over here?” Biff suddenly yelled, looking frustrated. “Supposed to be shooting a couple of you freaks?”
“Shut up, we’ll deal with why you’re here shortly,” NoTril Doc shot over his shoulder. “Trust me, we have plenty of questions.”
“You seemed to have missed the ‘guns’ part!”
“No, wait, I actually want to hear this,” Jack admitted, rubbing his sore fingers. “Might help explain a few things.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t go on, we want him understanding as little of this situation as possible,” Doc Five said, glaring at the group across the room.
“I already knew we were all fictional,” Jack purred. “What’s so bad about me knowing the extent of the damage? I already have all the advantages here – what’s one more?”
“All right, what the hell is he talking about?” VampDoc2 said, scowling. “In fact, what in the name of Sir Isaac Newton and Nikola Tesla is he doing here?! He’s supposed to be dead!”
“I got better,” Jack called in a sing-song voice.
“She wouldn’t have allowed you to get better!”
“You really think this ‘Vicky’ of yours is powerful enough to tame me?”
“Well, considering she created you,” NoTril Doc said, turning to face Jack as he folded his arms.
Jack actually looked a bit unbalanced by that. “That’s impossible.”
“No? Where do you think a good portion of our female company came from? Granted, she also likes borrowing people, as Fred and Victor show. . . .”
“Borrowing?” Fred repeated, looking completely confused.
“I guess we are covering crossovers now – some writers like to take two disparate universes and bring them together in some form or fashion,” OckDoc said quickly. “Vicky is practically addicted to these scenarios. I’m sure some of the others can already identify what they’ve been crossed over with, but – well, the fact of the matter is, neither you nor Victor are originally from the BTTF universe. Fred, you’re from a video game called ‘Psychonauts;’ Victor, you’re from a stop-motion movie called Corpse Bride.”
“What about me?” Allysin said, looking uneasy.
“You’re – complicated,” RolePlay Doc said, frowning. “You’re strongly inspired by her favorite versions of Alice In Wonderland, but you’re not from any place in particular. I think you’re the type of character she’d like to play if she ever got into an actual game.”
“Oh, right, the whole thing with the Fae is actually from a role-playing game,” TeenDoc said with a rather embarrassed smile.
“Role-playing – what, you mean like Dungeons & Dragons?” Fred demanded.
“Yes, only with Changelings instead of warriors and magic users.”
“You’re saying people actually spend their free time pretending to be victims of Fae kidnappings?” Doc Nine said slowly.
“. . . Why?”
“People are insane, you need us to tell you that?” VampDoc2 deadpanned at him.
“But what’s ‘Psychonauts?’” Fred demanded, looking very confused.
“Game about a psychic in training – it’s all about poking into other people’s psyches and dealing with their problems.”
Fred looked suddenly thoughtful. “Like, uh – a split personality?”
“Yes, Napoleon’s from the game too,” VampDoc nodded. “Though you had a rather more antagonistic relationship.”
“I resent zhat! I helped Fred get out of zhat awful place! He did, too,” Fred said.
“Yes, well, in the game, he’s keeping you in an insane asylum.”
“And Corpse Bride?” Victor said, voice trembling slightly.
“You were supposed to accidentally propose to a murdered bride, not get kidnapped by a Fae,” Tie-Twister Victor provided. “Of course, you were also supposed to be born in the mid 19th century according to proper canon, s-so. . . .”
“Propose to a dead bride? And I take it she – accepts?” Tie-Twister Victor nodded. “That doesn’t sound any more pleasant.”
“It is, actually,” Tie-Twister Victor tried to assure him. “Emily’s quite the sweet girl.”
Victor blinked. Well, that was an odd coincidence. “Emily?”
“Yes. That’s her name. Last name Cartwell.”
THIS WASN’T A COINCIDENCE. Victor felt his jaw drop. “T-that’s my g-girlfriend’s name.”
“It – it is?” Tie-Twister Victor looked a bit confused for a moment, then paled. “Oh, right. . . Um, I’m sure that version’s alive--”
“You’re me – or close enough to. I can tell when you’re lying.” Victor pressed a hand to his forehead. “I’m dating an animate corpse?”
“You know, that just figures, you dating the zombie,” Allysin said. “Incidentally, how the hell did you not know she was a zombie?!”
“She’s got a real talent for covering it up, I suppose! You didn’t realize it either!”
“Yes, but you can see ghosts!”
“Zombies aren’t ghosts!”
“I think she’d object to being called a zombie – she doesn’t eat brains,” Hatter Doc said, as if this were a perfectly natural conversation they were having.
Doc Eight pressed the heel of his hand hard into his forehead. “I think I just hit my limit on the insanity I can take at this particular moment. And coming from me, that’s saying something.”
“All right, you can be the one to tell us why all our worst villains have apparently decided to team up and invade Wonderland,” TeenDoc said, scowling over his shoulder at Jack and the others.
“Coming to Wonderland was an accident – he crash-landed here earlier,” Doc Eight obligingly explained. “As for the rest of it, this bastard has apparently seen fit to start kidnapping all our Martys for some sick vendetta!”
That got all the muses’ attentions. “What?”
“How did he do that?”
“As stated before, he’s supposed to be dead!”
“How many has he got?”
“He stole Doc One’s DeLorean first, then got his hands on Doc Three’s train after rigging up some system to stimulate dimensional flux,” Doc Eight tried to explain. “We’re not sure how he ended up in Doc One’s dimension in the first place, given that he’s both from Doc Ten’s world, and, as you noted, supposed to be dead. And he’s got all of ours, ten in all – there’s one Marty he missed in Doc Four’s world, due to the fact there were two Martys living in it.”
“Right, my Marty and the original to the universe Doc’s Marty,” VampDoc2 nodded, looking very concerned. “Great Scott, he really hates this kid, doesn’t he?”
“Yours are all at home, right?” Clara Alice said, twisting a bit of her apron in her hand. “They mentioned they might be looking for our Marty.”
“No, they’re all back at the muse house,” DocWolf said, as Hatter Doc turned pale. “Including White Rabbit. I don’t think they’ll be over here for anything. Just in case, though, those of you who can read each other’s minds, could you tell them to stay there no matter what?”
“Already done,” NoTril Doc said, looking worried. “They’re smart kids, they’ll stay put.”
“Have you been chasing them all over creation trying to rescue your friends?” RolePlay Doc asked, in a rather subdued voice.
“That’s it precisely,” Doc One nodded. “I’m just lucky I have some experience with inter-dimensional travel and thus recognized the portal when I saw it. Otherwise – well, who knows what might have happened?”
“You talking about us over there?” Biff called. “Ready to realize we’ve got guns and aren’t afraid to use them?”
“Yes to the former, no to the latter,” NoTril Doc said, turning to face the villains again. “Where the hell have you put the Martys?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out,” Jack said. “Think of it as a logic puzzle, oh dear brother of mine.”
“Can this logic puzzle involve one of us turning you upside down and knocking your head on the floor?” OckDoc threatened, tentacles hissing.
“Sure, if you want to end up looking like Swiss Cheese. Or possibly worse. And there’s the small fact I’m in very good favor with the Queen here, which is something your Martys can’t claim.”
VampDoc slapped a hand to his forehead. “Great Scott, as if our day wasn’t complicated enough already. . . .”
“I thrive off complication,” Jack smirked. “I find it absolutely wonderful.”
Andrew had been observing all the different Docs with great interest. “So many different versions of you, Professor! Though it doesn’t look like any others have had the benefit of my services.”
“It’s Doctor, you inhuman bastard,” Doc Nine growled. “I know you’ll never call me by my actual name, but at the very least you could use the title I worked so hard to get!”
“But Professor’s one of your titles too, isn’t it?”
“Not since you dragged me off to Arcadia!”
“Actually, we do have another version of him around,” VampDoc2 said to Andrew, eyes narrowing and growing just a bit lighter. “I’m sure he’d just love to meet you.”
“Another – is that why you called me ‘Clockwork’ before?” Doc Nine said, glancing back at the muses.
“Yes,” DocWolf confirmed. “Since you were standing there with your Victor, we just assumed you were him and DGVictor.”
“Who’s DGVictor?” Victor asked, in a tone that suggested he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. “I mean, besides this other other version of me. . . .”
“He’s technically more a different version of Tie-Twister,” TeenDoc said.
“How now, how do we know Tie-Twister is the original?” HatterDoc said, looking curious. “Really, how do we know any of us is an original? Given the propensity of duplicates here, one can’t be sure of anything.”
“It’s not something we can afford to worry about right now! Look, Vicky likes to collect alternate universe duplicates. It’s just a way of life with her.”
“We can see that,” Doc Four deadpanned. “So why isn’t this Clockwork with you?”
“He’s not a muse like us – he’s an role-playing character.”
“For this Changeling game you mentioned?” Allysin said, looking a bit squicked out.
“No, for LJ RPGs.”
“For what whats?”
TeenDoc opened his mouth to explain, then stopped. “Okay, how in the name of Sir Isaac H. Newton do we explain LiveJournal to people who generally spend their time in a time period before the internet?”
“Skip it, then, it’ll take too much time,” Doc Three said quickly, waving his hands. “Just – there’s yet another version of us you associate with, and another version of Victor?”
“And another Marty,” NoTrilDoc added. “Clockwork and his Marty, Museical, are basically alternate universe copies of Doc Nine and his Marty. DGVictor is like Tie-Twister, only from much earlier in the narrative. And then there’s Alice, Simon, Lucy, Dee, and Steve & Gary, but we’ll refrain from going into detail on them for now.”
“I think this is actually an argument against what you people are saying,” Sandy said, looking completely confused. “They’re all supposed to be living in the head of one particular girl?”
“You’d be surprised at how much space is up there,” HatterDoc said, not as genially as before. “Granted, we’re all wishing you lot weren’t also products of her deranged mind.”
“I refuse to believe this girl you keep mentioning is, in essence, our ‘god,’” Jack snapped, scowling. “I’m forced to believe in possibly infinite versions of you, unfortunately, because of the evidence of my own eyes, but that’s where I draw the line.”
“Suit yourself,” TeenDoc said. “Now, are any of you going to tell us where the Martys are and what you’ve done to them, or do we get to beat the living shit out of you?”
“Hey. Buttheads. Guns,” Biff said, waving his. “You know what these are?”
“Not to mention I could just have my Heart Guard reduce you all to a fine ash right now,” Queen Biffica added, scowling. “I don’t see why I’m even delaying, except out of mere morbid curiosity.”
“It wouldn’t work – Vic wouldn’t let anyone kill us,” VampDoc2 said, rolling his eyes.
For some reason, RolePlayDoc coughed. VampDoc2 gave him a look. “Oh, come on, even you know she didn’t actually mean it!”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Biff said, looking deeply confused.
“One of the Martins mentioned something about being resurrected,” Jack said, looking rather thoughtful. “Maybe he’s gone through the same thing.”
“Oh, so one of our Doktours has had a taste of death?” Amina said, smirking at RolePlayDoc as she put her arm around Jack. “Good, he’ll be prepared for it now. I saw we just shoot them all and be done with it, darling.”
“Darling?!” TeenDoc repeated, looking rather sick to his stomach.
“Just what we need – the two worst psychopaths forming a romantic connection,” NoTrilDoc muttered.
“Amina simply understands me better than anyone else,” Jack said, giving her a disturbingly smarmy grin. “It’s so nice to meet someone with such interesting ideas on what we could do to you.” His gaze flicked over to Andrew. “Though I’ve heard some good things about you, Mr. Sparks.”
“That’s odd, I thought the Professor didn’t like me,” Andrew said, giving Doc Nine an appraising look. “Have you finally come to your senses about that stupid flesh body you insisted on trying to keep? Because we could start again right where we left off!”
“You keep the hell away from me,” Doc Nine said, trying to ignore the slight tremor in his voice.
“I don’t see what the fuss is, two of your alternates have metal body parts as well.”
“Don’t you lump us in with your experiments!” Doc Six’s Albert yelled, as his brothers and their counterparts hissed. “Our creation had nothing to do with Father getting carved up!”
“That’s something we prevented, in fact!” OckDoc’s Tommy added, waggling his inner tentacle.
“I don’t know if that counts, Tommy,” OckDoc’s Jules whispered. “That surgery was intended to remove us.”
“Yeah, but even the doctors said Father might not have been able to walk afterwards. I say we did a good thing.”
“They’re truly sentient?” Andrew beamed, looking – more psychotic than anything. “Professor, you never fail to amaze me! Why couldn’t we do that?”
“It never crossed my mind – what I had left of it, anyway,” Doc Nine growled.
“You keep talking about your years of service to me as if they were a bad thing.”
“They were! I had no idea who I was! There’s still huge gaps in my memory!”
“That’s hardly my fault,” Andrew said, frowning. “You’re the one who insisted on trying to go home. It didn’t matter to me if you had a memory or not, so long as you built.”
“I know it didn’t matter to you, but it matters to me,” Doc Nine said coldly.
“But why, though? All those memories are doing is holding you back from your true potential!”
“What, as some mindless automaton?”
“It would be for science! Surely you can agree with that noble goal!”
“Not when I know the end result is the complete loss of my humanity!”
“What the hell were you trying to do to him in the first place?” Biff finally asked, looking at Andrew with one eyebrow arched in confusion.
“Strip him of a few unnecessary human needs,” Andrew replied, smiling in what he probably thought was a warm way at Biff. “I would have been doing him a service. Perhaps you’re interested?”
Biff looked rather spooked. “Uh – I’ll pass, thanks,” he said, holding up one hand.
Andrew frowned. “What is with you people? I’m offering you the closest thing you creatures can get to perfection!”
“We’ll discuss it later,” Jack said, voice oily smooth. “Right now, we have some Emmetts to deal with. And while normally I’d be all in favor of killing them on the spot--” He gave them his best slasher grin. “I want to make them suffer first. Who’s in favor of dragging the Martys here one by one and killing them in front of them? With the understanding that whoever tries to save them does indeed get turned to a pile of ash by the Heart Guard?”
“Oooh, intriguing,” Queen Biffica said, with a smirk of her own.
“You can’t stop all of us,” Doc Four said, wings unfurling from his back. “If we rushed you--”
“Homing explosives would stop you above your tracks,” an Ace of Hearts commented, looking smug.
“You mean in.”
“He means above,” HatterDoc said with a sigh. “As they fling you into the air.”
“I think it’s worth the risk! Who’s with--”
KABOOM! Something vaguely heart-shaped hit the wall above his head and exploded, sending chunks of stone everywhere. The Docs scattered to avoid being hit in the head. “Still think it’s worth the risk?” one the cards called.
“I didn’t order you to fire!” Queen Biffica shrieked, jumping up and down. “Off with your head! After we take care of this.”
Doc Seven stared up at the smoking hole the projectile had left. “Great Scott, that’s amazing,” he whispered. “What level of technology is this world up to?”
“I think it’s roughly on par with ours,” TeenDoc said, also looking intrigued. “Damn it, one of us should have brought our lightning gun.”
“I did! I idiotically left it in the train!”
“I don’t know if it would have helped us that much,” Doc Eight grumbled. “They have the advantage of numbers on us now. Damn it, why can nothing go right for us?”
“That’s just our life,” Albert grumbled. “It never rains but it pours. Or, in this case, causes the second Noah’s Flood.”
“Very wise artificial intelligence you have there,” Jack said. “It obviously knows you’re a worthless nothing.”
“We can think of any number of people who would disagree with you,” Clara Three snapped. “And I don’t care how much firepower and how many allies you have. We’re still going to stop you, one way or another.”
“Really.” Jack looked at his compatriots, and sniggered. “Well. Unless any of you have found a way to clone yourselves. . . .”