[As they approach the group, the younger woman seems to be controlling the teddy bears and has the bears fan out in front of the three humans. It also becomes apparent that her legs have some sort of mechanical braces on them, they appear to hinder somewhat, though less than one would expect]
OLDER MAN: [Observing Clara’s reaction, he leans to the younger woman.] I know you’re eager to help, Jen, but look at the woman, you’re making her nervous with your herd. Trust first.
JEN: [With sudden realization leading to a burst of confusion.] Why is she. . . she doesn’t know what they are? Oh my! [she quickly directs her bears behind her and they fall into place.]
CLARA: [slightly indignantly] I can hear you, you know. I’m not just a ‘she’. I’m Clara!
OLDER MAN: [Stepping forward] Hello Clara, my name is Griff. It’s a pleasure. May I introduce [he gestures to the older woman] Stormy, [he gestures to the younger one] and as you’ve likely surmised, this is Jen.
JEN: And this is my herd! This is . . [she begins pointing at the various odd animated teddy bears] Mystic, Rum-tum-tugger, Mister Bojangles, Queen Nefertiti, Halloween, Yngvie, GIR, Conan the Librarian, Alfred, Morton J. Throckwoddle III, Bela, Barry the Bare Bear, and Animala.
CLARA: They’re alive?
GRIFF: Ha! No, they’re just robots. You’re really from somewhere interesting, aren’t you?
THE DOCTOR: That we are! And lovely to meet you all. I’m The Doctor and this is still Clara. [whispers conspiratorially] She’s wonderfully impossible!
STORMY: So, now that we’ve got introductions in hand. . . how DID you people get here?
JEN: [Excitedly] Is this a game? What’s your signcode? Which net?
THE DOCTOR: [holds out ‘psychic paper’ (invisible)] See? Everything’s in order, mind if I show Clara around some?
STORMY: [looking at psychic paper] You’re. . . The Doctor from. . . Gallifrey? [nodding faster as she remembers] Oh, like from the old television show? With the blue box that went through time!
[The Doctor and Clara both do double-takes, even The Doctor looks somewhat flummoxed]
CLARA: It is! How did you know that?
JEN: [Excitedly] You . . .are . . . AMAZING! Are you a method actor? How do you stay in character like that?
THE DOCTOR: Quite right, and since Clara is so wonderfully “in-character,” I trust you won’t have trouble answering her accordingly? Just be part of the story!
[All three smile and nod knowingly]
STORMY: [coming off as quite spry for her age, acting in on the game.] Of course! So. . . Doctor. If that IS your real name [eye wink and little lopsided grin], why are you here?
THE DOCTOR: I’m here to show Clara all the amazing things you’ve done! It’s kind of a vacation from all the world-savings we do, right?
CLARA: What? Oh! Yes, right. So . . . what do you guys do?
STORMY: Well, I’m a genetic engineer and DNA coder most of the time. My specialty is extinct or endangered species.
THE DOCTOR: Ahh, so is it you we have to thank for that lovely creature we met on the way? A thylacine?
STORMY: [laughing] Oh, no! Charismatic megafauna bores me. I like little things, they’re more fun, I suppose you can credit the Lake Peddler Planarian to my name, but I’m guessing you didn’t observe any flatworms on the way?
GRIFF: Don’t let her sell herself short, she’s amazing. Tell them about the protoceratops!
CLARA: You brought back a DINOSAUR?
STORMY: [Laughing] Not me! No! And you can’t get much more megafauna than that, can you? OH! I mean [winking conspiratorially] . . .yes, a dinosaur! It was one of the first big ones they think they got close.
Dinos are complicated, especially if they’re not therapods, these guys branched off way before any modern anologues . . . so they already had their work cut out for them there even with so many samples to work from. They still had to guess a lot, and of course we’ll never be sure we got them even close to right. But every creature is an ecosystem and we haven’t really had that much luck getting any microfauna from back then.
[She pauses and sighs sadly] We’ll never know how much we’ll never know, will we? And we only have ourselves to blame the last extinction. . . the one that would have had the most cures. . .the people we could have saved. . . [she appears about to break into tears, but quickly composes herself.]
Sorry, it’s just. . . painful. Anyway, we had to pretty much try to give them modern gut bacteria, and apparently they had something in them way back when that they depended on to make some pretty specific proteins. . . or they were way off, hard to say. I led the team that managed to crack that particular nut. We wouldn’t have gotten that much attention but they’d been stalled for a while, and the mini versions are really popular as pets in some places, so yeah, that was kind of cool.
CLARA: Wait . . . wasn’t there something about us not being able to get any DNA after so long?
JEN: Yeah, how do you guys do that? I never thought to ask.
STORMY: Well, it’s not really my thing, but apparently under some conditions the process of fossilization destroys the DNA in a predictable way. They shave the fossils atom by atom and do a whole lot of data mining. There’s still a lot of luck involved. . . They once thought they had a good sample in a T-rex but it turned out to be from a nematode that probably was eating its bone marrow.
CLARA: Wow. Also, yuk. Okay. . . right. [to GRIFF] and you? What do you do?
GRIFF: Right now? I’m in the middle of a stint as a travelling scribe. I go from community to community, gathering ideas and stories, inventions and gifts, jokes and dreams. Then I mingle for a while and share adventures of other spheres and so on. We also stir things up and make sure nobody’s feeling useless or hopeless.
CLARA: That sounds really fun!
GRIFF: It is! I used to be a Park Ranger, and just tried the scribe thing as a vacation of sorts. Turned out I had a knack for it and loved it, so my vacation became my career. It’s been a great experience for me, I’m loving it.
THE DOCTOR: Wait! That’s a new one. Your vacation became your job?
GRIFF: Oh! You’re making a story too! Sorry, I thought you were a mentor or something.
THE DOCTOR: [Winks to Griff] Shh. . . in character!
GRIFF: Right! Sorry, just a totally new sort of game, takes a bit to adjust, you know?
THE DOCTOR: Of course.
GRIFF: Anyway, yes. We have to take at least one vacation a year, and we’re also encouraged to take at least one second ‘intern-vacation’ as well if we’re interested in exploring something that we haven’t already, makes us better people, I think, too. And you’ve got to admit, the idea of having a vacation that you can turn into your life has a certain appeal to it, doesn’t it?
CLARA: Umm. . yes! I like that quite much actually! [To JEN] How about you? What do you do?
JEN: I’m a Teddy Bear Herder of course, we’re the closest thing we have to Emergency Management here. The herd [nods to the bears] also helps with disaster recovery and occasionally enforcement if somebody has a bad moment. We usually spend a couple of days a week with the kids acclimating and goofing around. I love that part best, that’s where they got their names. I suck at naming things.
CLARA: [Taking note of JEN’s distinct lack of bigness and apparent handicap] Enforcement? Like law enforcement? And you came out here without a gun or anything? Do you have laser legs?
JEN: [Smirks] Griff! Does anybody have laser legs? I would like some, please!
GRIFF: [Rolls eyes] You know every time you do that I have to ask. Last week I sent the librarians requests for sloth-variant teddy bears, examples of humor from peoplespheres using mathematically derived languages, and a device that can make people’s hair stand up from a distance. . . and I’m not convinced you’d use that appropriately.
JEN: Nonsense. It was for the kids and would be delightfully entertaining and appropriate for us. [To Clara] Oh, and nope. No guns or laser legs. Just my grace, charm, and these guys. [Nods to the teddy bears]
CLARA: What, they have guns?
JEN: Nope, they just entangle you in hugs.
CLARA: [Pausing to consider] You’ve weaponized hugs. That’s delightfully mad.
JEN: [Curtseys] I’ve been called that, yes. Yet they trust me with weaponized hugs, what DOES that say about the world?
STORMY: [Ahem-ing] So, not to be a stick in the mud, but I think now that we’ve granted courtesy we might ask a few questions.
THE DOCTOR: Of course! What can we do for you?
STORMY: Well, for starters, I’m kind of curious as to how you got here. This is a preserve, we try to keep human interference to a minimum.
THE DOCTOR: Oh my, I’m so sorry! That was the TARDIS, she took us here. She’s my ship.
STORMY: And you got here from where?
THE DOCTOR: Right. . . well, that’s kind of complicated. She’s not a normal ship. Where are we again? This whole big floating thing with the buildings all around?
GRIFF: Dymaxion ark?
THE DOCTOR: Sure. That’s where we’re not from.
JEN: You flew a ship into the preserve from outside the ark? That completely implausible. That’s not the sort of thing we’d miss. There are a gazillion sensors between the coast and here and . . .
STORMY: [stopping so abruptly that Clara runs into her from behind] Why’s there a blue box in my forest?
JEN: [Whispering to Clara] She’s a bit of a mother hen sometimes
[Kayee pulls Jen to the side so she can see what she’s looking at, which happens to be the TARDIS]
JEN: No way!
GRIFF: [Moving his fingers as if he was moving around invisible objects] That’s real. . . didn’t show up on scans between 1:17:22 and 1:17:25 . . . is weirdly massive . . . wait, no, that’s not right. What is this thing?
THE DOCTOR: That’s the TARDIS, I was just telling you about her.
CLARA: I’m pretty sure they were a bit past that, Doctor.
THE DOCTOR: Oh! I’m so rude! Would you all like to come inside?
JEN: [Skeptically] Inside your little box with you?
CLARA: It’s bigger on the inside.
JEN: [laughing] That doesn’t even make sense!
THE DOCTOR: Oh! But it is!
GRIFF: Well, I’m all for having a look inside that thing. . . if only to make sense of these readings. This is seriously weird. [He reaches out and smushes the invisible objects together]
STORMY: Well, at least one thing makes more sense now.
THE DOCTOR: Ooh! Good, and what would that be?
STORMY: I’m on a bit of a vacation, and I could’ve sworn I had unchecked all the ‘spontaneous games’ and the rest from my profile. I had figured this was some sort of game for Jen and Griff and I was the one who was glitched. Now I know it’s not me, it’s you!
CLARA: I’m not glitched! Well, sort of. It’s complicated.
JEN: Can we go check out the box?
GRIFF: Not just CAN, we’ve been asked to. I bet you’ve got instructions already, this is your arena, Jen.
JEN: [Closing one eye again] Oh! I do. . wow. Umm, lots of messages. We’ve got autonomy here, so let’s go.
THE DOCTOR: Who wants to join me in my wondrous box? [Opens door to TARDIS]
[The three Earthlings huddle and do an unusually complicated rock-paper-scissors thing]
CLARA: [whispering to the Doctor] That actually came across as slightly creepy.
STORMY: Spock wins! I’m first! [unhesitatingly walks into TARDIS]
[the group hears an excited, girly scream]
STORMY: [Popping back out] Wiz! [Excitedly circles the TARDIS, then hops back in, vanishes for a few seconds, then runs back out] This is . . . real??? How?
THE DOCTOR: See? I told you the truth and you didn’t believe me. Sometimes I wonder why I talk at all. No, no, I don’t. Never mind.
[JEN and GRIFF follow suit, stepping in the TARDIS briefly and exploring around it]
STORMY: This is. . . wow, what do we do?
JEN: I just got an update from a couple of the science teams, once we’re done with some measurements it’s up to us. . . oh, wait. [she closes one eye again and seems to be listening to something] . . . they want one more thing.
[she has her bears line up single file holding hands and they walk in a line into the TARDIS until only they all disappear inside, then a few seconds later, they re-emerge and circle the TARDIS, still holding hands. JEN finds a two meter long branch on the ground and sticks it in the TARDIS so it’s obvious that there’s something improbable going on]
JEN: Heh, yeah, we’ve blown a whole bunch of minds. This is kind of fun, the MC Hawking team is having a field day. They want to know if they can borrow it for a while. They’ve got some great ideas for lyrics, and they want to test a whole bunch of things. They’re kind of having a happygasm over there.
CLARA: Borrow the TARDIS?
THE DOCTOR: Nope, sorry. She’s mine, and I’m hers. We’re kind of a team, you know.
JEN: [after a pause] They’re a little sad and envious. You’re invited to visit!
THE DOCTOR: Well, I just might! Tell them thanks!
GRIFF: Heh, I just got a call from the Feynman-Leary Cooperative. They want to know if you’d like them to send a trip guide.
CLARA: How could they send a trip guide if they don’t know where we’re going?
GRIFF: Not THAT sort of trip guide. Altered States people, mind hackers, that sort of thing. They’re good at altering themselves to think around weird issues and have pretty much mastered guiding people through crazy situations. They’re a bit crazy, but brilliant and fun.
THE DOCTOR: Let them all know I’m petty sure I will be or am going to have been returning, and we’ll doing a tour here next time! That’ll be delightful! Or will be going to have been? [Notices CLARA staring at him, defensively] What? You try getting all those rules right with a new mouth!
STORMY: [Looking at the TARDIS] So… now what. What does it do?
THE DOCTOR: As you already said, she travels through time! Would you like to go for a trip?
JEN: [Grinning widely] This is made of weird. I’m in!
GRIFF: I really resent you guys for making me the one who says this, but shouldn’t we do some more analysis before committing to anything?
THE DOCTOR: How about a tour? A little one?
GRIFF: A little one?
THE DOCTOR: We’ll stick within a five minute walk of the exit.
GRIFF: [Looking briefly skyward] Of course. Let’s go.
[The group enters the TARDIS]
[Inside the TARDIS]
THE DOCTOR: Welcome to the TARDIS!
JEN: I have a question.
THE DOCTOR: I like questions! Could I have yours?
JEN: [Smiling] How about we share?
THE DOCTOR: Done!
JEN: Okay. So far you guys have said some pretty implausible things and they’ve turned out to be true.
THE DOCTOR: Yes! Yes they have!
JEN: And . . . time travel?
THE DOCTOR: Also true, yes.
GRIFF: But that’s not possible!
STORMY: To be fair, neither are teleporting blue boxes that are bigger on the inside than the outside.
JEN: And here we are. [To The Doctor] So how does it work?
THE DOCTOR: How does it work? Well, I’m not entirely sure, actually. It’s complicated, timey-wimey things . . . that’s a strange thing to say. I’m sorry, I just regenerated, things are a bit dodgy for a bit sometimes.
[Jen, Stormy, and Griff all look at Clara]
CLARA: What? He’s not kidding, and honestly I’m not sure that he knows or can explain how it actually happens. The TARDIS does all the work. She’s sentient.
JEN: Like an AI?
THE DOCTOR: AI? No! Not an AI! She’s alive, maybe not quite in the same way you lot are, but she’s just as alive. More so if anything.
STORMY: And she can take you anywhere?
THE DOCTOR: And anywhen!
JEN: What happens if you change things?
THE DOCTOR: Well, sometimes we can’t. There are some points . . ‘fixed points in time’, where everything’s converging and there’s really nothing you can do even if you do try. On the other end of the spectrum there are times where all kinds of things are about to happen and if you change the order everything’s different. . . those are dangerous.
JEN: Because you can change everything accidentally butterfly-effect style?
THE DOCTOR: Oh, you’re good! [To Clara] You’ve got competition! [Back to Jen] Exactly. We Time Lords have rules we follow, you see?
GRIFF: Time Lords? You call yourselves Time Lords? Isn’t that a little. . .
STORMY: . . . pretentious?
JEN: . . . silly?
[Clara snorts in amusement and quickly covers her mouth]
THE DOCTOR: Well I didn’t name us! And I’m kind of the only one left anyway.
JEN: Yet you’re plural?
[Stormy and Griff join Clara smirkingly]
THE DOCTOR: [To Clara] Help?
CLARA: I’m actually quite enjoying myself and would hate to ruin things.
THE DOCTOR: [Sighing visibly] ANYWAY. We have rules we follow. . that I follow. .
CLARA: . . Usually.
THE DOCTOR: That I usually follow to keep from mucking things up. [To Jen] And I can be plural if I want to be. So there!
GRIFF: So . . . what DOES happen? Does time actually change? Do we split into parallel timelines? How do you know the difference?
THE DOCTOR: [pausing] You can’t really, can you?
JEN: So you can go back in time and change things to make them better . . . but you don’t?
THE DOCTOR: Sometimes you can make things much worse.
JEN: That’s nonsense. You just said you don’t know, and you can go back in time and prevent awful things and you’ve got a rule that paralyzes you into inaction because . . .
CLARA: Well, when you start thinking about multiple realities and all that it does get kind of complicated.
JEN: That doesn’t matter. If you can help people and make things better you make things better. Period.
THE DOCTOR: [To Griff and Stormy] Is she always like this?
GRIFF: We’ve learned not to get into logic battles with Jen when she gets going.
STORMY: What about the early 21st?
CLARA: That’s where I’m from! When. When I’m from. And this me. [To herself] Wow. That sounds really strange when I say it out loud like that.
THE DOCTOR: 21st century Earth? That’s turbulent. Once you hit the teens then we’re in very risky territory.
STORMY: We lost entire ecosystems when the climate changed, and almost a third of humanity. You’re saying you could have stopped it?
THE DOCTOR: Absolutely . . . or I could make things worse. And even if I stopped it maybe you guys wouldn’t exist. Maybe there’d never be people like you.
JEN: I still think it’s a stupid rule. You should always try to help, even if you’re scared of what might happen. If everybody did that way back then we wouldn’t have had so much suffering. Each one of them is just as much of a person as any of us and . . .
[various TARDIS noises, which have been slowly ramping up in the background, start to increase in volume and a familiar cacophony begins]
[The Doctor looks at Clara]
CLARA: It wasn’t me!
THE DOCTOR: Well it sure wasn’t me! I was busy getting lectured!
GRIFF: What’s going on?
THE DOCTOR: She’s activating! Hold on to something!
[The TARDIS activates and various visual effects happen]
[Suddenly, the noises stop]
CLARA: Well, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?
[. . . and smoke begins filling the room]
CLARA: [To TARDIS] That wasn’t fair!